JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During a campaign event Friday, Mayor Alvin Brown announced his support for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Brown made the announcement at The Fox restaurant in Avondale.
"In Jacksonville, business is booming and job creation is on the rise," Brown said. "But we need to do more to ensure our workers are given every opportunity to succeed. That is why I've opposed all tax increases and believe that Floridians deserve higher wages and equal pay for equal work. Achieving this would put more money in the pockets of working families, grow the economy, create jobs and strengthen our small businesses."
The current minimum wage is $8.05 an hour, which increased from $7.90 on Jan. 1, 2015. Brown said he is asking state lawmakers to consider the measure to raise it even further.
According to the mayor's office, the plan would directly benefit 1.2 million Florida workers and would create more than 8,000 Florida jobs.
The Fox restaurant owner Ian Chase, who also co-owns the popular sandwich shop Chomp Chomp, hosted Brown's announcement Friday.
"I agree with Mayor Brown that the minimum wage should be raised," Chase said. "Not only is it the right thing to do, but it's good for business. Well-paid employees are harder working and more loyal employees. I have a great staff who I'm happy to pay more than the minimum wage."
Some of Chase's staff currently make less than minimum wage, but those staff members also earn tips.
"I do support giving hourly employees a livable wage, because it benefits the business and it benefits the employee and ultimately it benefits the consumer as well," Chase said.
The mayor was asked if he would propose a budget that would pay more than the current minimum wage to city workers now earn minimum wage.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the state to take this issue up," Brown responded. "I think at the end of the day, $10.10 is fair. I am open to ideas that would allow the city to look at how you can focus on helping people make more money and do well economically. I am open to a dialogue."
Brown said he didn't bring up a minimum wage increase during his four years in office because the economy was tough. He said now that the local economy has improved, it's time to talk about paying workers more.
Ultimately, the proposal would give more than 1.2 million Floridians a raise, including many of the more than 80,000 Jacksonville workers who make less than $15,000 a year, the mayor's office said. That would add $1,927,292,183 to the Florida economy; and create more than 8,000 Florida jobs as people spend more at local businesses, allowing them to hire new workers, officials said.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), raising the federal minimum wage would lift 4.6 million Americans out of poverty. According to the Center for American Progress, that would reduce spending on government assistance programs like SNAP by $46 billion over 10 years.
News4Jax contacted the campaign of mayoral challenger Lenny Curry, but we have not yet heard back.