$15 wage bump will appear on ’20 ballot
Floridians will be able to vote on the measure following court review
Floridians will vote next year on whether to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, an amendment initiative led by Orlando attorney John Morgan that’s already drawing opposition from Republican leaders and the business community.
The initiative that will be called Amendment 2 made the November ballot after its wording was approved by the Florida Supreme Court in a decision released Thursday.
Court review was the last obstacle to getting the measure on the ballot after Morgan’s Florida for a Fair Wage collected more than 770,000 of the required 766,200 signatures.
The amendment would raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour beginning Sept. 30, 2021, and increase it an additional dollar each year until it reached $15 in 2026.
After that, future increases would be adjusted annually for inflation.
The current minimum wage of $8.46 is scheduled to increase to $8.56 on Jan. 1.
The proposal already has drawn the ire of business groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Retail Federation.
“This ballot measure will actu
ally hurt the very people its proponent claims it will help,” said Edie Ousley, vice president of public affairs for the Florida Chamber, in an email to News Service of Florida on Thursday.
“This is the poster child for a proposed constitutional amendment masquerading as a turnout weapon to impact the presidential election.”
Republicans have also criticized the proposal, with state House Speaker Jose Oliva saying in an email, “There’s nothing compassionate about mandating someone’s job out of existence and robbing them of the dignity of work. … This arbitrarily chosen dollar figure, while applauded on the cocktail circuit, will cost working families their jobs and that is something I cannot support.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office did not return a request for comment.
Morgan, however, wrote in an email, “I was confident in my language and am confident it will pass. This is not a political issue, this is a religious issue and moral issue.”
“WWJD?” he added, referring to the saying “What Would Jesus Do?”
Morgan, whose Orlando firm has contributed more than $4.6 million to the campaign, previously spearheaded a successful medical marijuana initiative in 2016.
In its ruling, the court stated that the amendment meets the single-subject requirement, and it declined to rule on Attorney General Ashley Moody’s request to review the state’s financial impact statement.
The state had estimated that if the amendment passed, state and local government costs would increase to meet the new minimum wage by about $16 million in 2022 up to about $540 million in 2027.
The court reversed a previous ruling that it had the power to review financial statements, saying it “cannot exercise jurisdiction that the constitution does not provide.”
The amendment becomes the first to officially lock a spot on the 2020 ballot.
Amendment 1, which would mandate that only U.S. citizens could vote in state and local elections, and Amendment 3, which would create nonpartisan “jungle” primaries, are listed as being on the ballot but could still be removed if the Supreme Court rules against their language.
Other potential ballot initiatives include measures that would legalize recreational marijuana, ban assault weapons and require every ballot proposal to be approved twice before taking effect.
An amendment requires 60% of the vote to pass.
Morgan expressed confidence that Amendment 2 would pass.
“Now, the sprint to reverse decades of inequality really starts — and let me tell you — this is going to be a tough challenge,” Morgan told News Service of Florida.
“But just like voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of medical marijuana in 2016, I’m confident that we will do the same in 2020.”