TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Voters will decide whether or not to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2026 this November.
Polls show the proposed constitutional amendment with strong support, but the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association is fighting back.
Amendment 2 would spike Florida’s $8.56 minimum wage to $10 on Sept. 30, 2021.
Amendment supporter Bob Rackleff explained it would then increase by one dollar a year until hitting $15.
“They have until 2026 to figure this out,” said Rackleff who also heads the Big Bend Voting Rights Project.
But Vice President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Geoff Luebkemann argues by nearly doubling the state’s minimum wage over the next six years, small businesses could be crippled.
“It will cost folks jobs. It will decrease opportunity,” said Luebkemann.
The association has launched an online calculator that shows how much more businesses with tipped employees can expect to pay if Amendment 2 passes.
“In an industry with razor-thin margins, taking this kind of hit may remove the opportunity to be profitable at all,” said Luebkemann.
Rackleff said the hospitality industry pushed the same message when voters approved a minimum wage hike in 2004.
“And all the panicky things that were going to happen didn’t happen,” said Rackleff.
There is one glaring difference between 2020 and 2004.
In 2004 there wasn’t a global pandemic.
“The timing couldn’t be worse with an industry already on its knees,” said Luebkemann.
However, Rackleff contends more money in the pockets of low wage workers will translate to more spending.
“They’ll be good customers for these same businesses that are crying the blues right now,” said Rackleff.
Pandemic or not, the amendment is polling well over the 60% needed for passage.
We did reach out to Florida For a Fair Wage, the committee backing Amendment 2, for comment on this story.
We did not receive a response.