TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It’s been a controversial topic: increasing the minimum wage for what some call low-level jobs. But a new study says the low wages that many Floridians are making are costing the rest of the taxpayers billions.
Patricia Walker is a Tampa homecare worker making minimum wage. It's not easy for the mother of two.
"I take care of my clients and make sure they have food, but then I need to go home and open my refrigerator to see what I got to eat," Walker said.
Walker pleaded with state legislators to raise the minimum wage to $15 so she and many others around the state can live without assistance.
"We give our heart to our clients or our customers in whatever we do, but who's going to support us? Who's going to help us out?" Walker asked.
A new study from Florida State University economics professor Patrick L. Mason says that the low wage earners are draining every other tax payer throughout the state.
"Ten programs you calculate the total amount that is going to low-wage workers and that's where the $11.4 billion comes from," Mason said.
State Democrats filed bills to increase the state's current $8.05 minimum wage.
"Why is it you're working two or three jobs? Why is it you're having to depend on food stamps? Why is it you're depending on agencies to make sure you have a quality of life," Rep. Victor Torres said.
Even supporters said that it could all just be wishful thinking as the Republican-controlled legislature has no plans to push for a $15 minimum wage.
The report is backed by the SEIU public service labor union.
Bills raising the minimum wage have yet to be heard in the House and the Senate.