Florida Supreme Court Looks at Increasing Minimum Wage

The Florida Supreme Court is looking over the wording of yet another constitutional amendment, this one dealing with an increase in the state's minimum wage. Supporters and opponents are already preparing for a fierce battle.

Cassandra Smith thinks it’s high time Florida raised the minimum wage. She was quick to sign a petition to let voters decide whether they want to put a higher minimum wage in the state constitution.

Smith says she knows what it’s like to try to get by on a low income.

Cassandra says, “When I started at minimum wage, it was only $3.35 an hour, so I mean it should be increased because the cost of living goes up, so I think it’s very important for people to get, you know, regular wages.”

A group called Floridians For All is spearheading the petition drive to raise the minimum wage by $1.00 an hour to $6.15. If voters agree, about 300,000 Floridians would get pay raises.

But businesses say raising the minimum wage in Florida from $5.15 to $6.15 will hurt the economy. They might have to let some workers go so they could afford to pay others the higher rate.

The Florida Retail Federation says most companies that pay minimum wage just use it as a training wage, and if you bump it up, you have to give everyone else a raise too.

Spokesman Rick McAllister says small businesses couldn’t afford it.

“You get this compression that causes not only that training wage to go up, but wages throughout the system to go up. It has a ripple effect up, if you will, in everyone being paid by the hour,” he says.

The Retail Federation says the issue doesn’t belong in the state constitution to begin with. Voters may disagree, especially women. They make up more than 60 percent of minimum wage earners.

Not only does the Supreme Court have to decide if the amendment meets technical requirements to go on the ballot, supporters must get signatures from nearly a half million registered voters.