ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida voters will decide in November whether to raise the state's minimum wage to $15 an hour.
After getting enough signatures, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in December that the constitutional amendment could be placed on the 2020 ballot. The proposal, which will be listed as Amendment 2 on the ballot, was spearheaded by Orlando attorney John Morgan. His son, Matt Morgan, is also behind the minimum wage initiative, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10 in 2021, and then increase it a dollar every year until it reaches $15 in 2026.
"There's a number of years that elapse before we get to $15 an hour," Matt Morgan said. "The spirit of that is to make sure that employers and businesses can gradually adapt to this instead of doing it overnight."
In 2004, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that increases the state minimum wage each year based on inflation. The current rate is $8.56 an hour, up 10 cents from 2019. The federal minimum wage hasn't moved in more than a decade and remains at $7.25 an hour.
The proposed amendment, however, is being met with fierce criticism from business owners and the Florida Chamber of Commerce who fear the wage hike would lead to job loss and higher consumer prices. Matt Morgan told Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com” he believes that stance is a scare tactic.
“For many corporate interests this is going to impact their profitability, but it’s not going to impact their sustainability,” Matt Morgan said. “They’re still going to be able to operate, they’re just not going to operate at quite the same profit margins.”
State economists have concluded the measure could cost state and local governments more than $500 million per year when fully implemented, information that will be included on the ballot for voters to see. Industry executives have also said if Amendment 2 is passed, it could very well hurt the people it's set to help because thousands of minimum wage positions would have to be cut.
“The person flipping burgers doesn’t care about that argument because they know that it’s not true,” Matt Morgan said. “You still have to have somebody flip that burger, you still have to scoop the ice cream. I just don’t think it’s a genuine argument.”
Constitutional amendments need 60 percent of the vote to pass in Florida. If approved, Florida would join the growing list of states, including California, Illinois and Maryland, that will eventually reach the $15 per hour minimum wage threshold.
“The crisis in America that I see is this disparity in income,” Matt Morgan said. “You have the rich who are making so much money and they’re getting richer and richer every day. Then you have the poor who are falling behind. At some point in time, there has to be an equaling of the playing field.”