Bill seeks to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour in Florida

State senators to seek support for minimum wage hike

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the debate over minimum wage continues across the country, two local bills could soon change the minimum wage in Florida.

Two Florida state senators on Thursday will call on legislators to sign bills that would raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour.

Both bills would nearly double the state's current minimum wage, which is $8.05.

Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles have already passed $15 minimum wages. New York has also raised the minimum wage for fast food workers to $15.

State Sen. Dwight Bullard, a Democrat representing Miami, and Rep. Victor Torres, a Democrat who represents Orlando, will call on other legislators to support bills increased the state's current minimum wage from $ 8.05 to $15.

"I'd like my colleagues to see that supporting this bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is the right thing to do for Florida's working families who struggle every day just to make ends meet," said Bullard. "I look forward to challenging others to take the Minimum Wage Challenge so they can understand what it feels like to live on poverty wages in today's world."

News 6 found people shopping at the Community Food and Outreach Center in Orange County who say an increase is necessary.

"I am the person struggling right now and you know, $8, that doesn't cut it, doesn't cut it. And a lot of people right now, (are) resorting to places like here so you can at least afford food," said Malika Toepfer.

As a former employee of the hospitality and tourism industry for 16 years, Toepfer says she knows firsthand how much an increase would especially help people working in Central Florida's biggest industry.

"You live paycheck to paycheck and sometimes you don't even make it. The cost of living is getting higher and higher," said Toepfer.

Eric Gray, executive director of the Community Food and Outreach Center in Orlando, is watching the debate closely. He says raising the minimum wage $7 just won't work.

"Unfortunately, it's just a gesture because there's no way it gets passed through the state legislature. You would be raising the wage on half the community in Orlando," said Gray.

Gray says with 600,000 people just in Orlando making less than the proposed increase, it's just unsustainable.
"I think the realistic answer is, it needs to be incremental, it needs to be incremental quickly, but it needs to be incremental so that we're solving the problems of the working poor in this community," said Gray.

The minimum wage hourly rate is adjusted every year using an inflation equation that takes cost of living into consideration. A year ago, it was $7.54.