Ballot Issue #5: Minimum Wage
The second citizen initiated proposed constitutional amendment on your November ballot is Issue #5, which raises Arkansas’s minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 per hour by 2017 (the “minimum wage bill”). Even though Arkansas hasn’t changed our minimum wage since 2006, as with the other contested issues, the public again saw this play itself out over the past months via paid signature gatherers who supported the change.
Did you know that Arkansas and 37 other states have these measures on the 2014 ballot? But, what you may not find in the bill is that Arkansas’ $6.25 rate is below the mandated federal minimum of $7.25, which takes precedent by federal law. So anyone eligible for minimum wage in our state is already being paid at least $7.25/hour. The bill’s premise of a $6.25/hour base wage is just incorrect (or a purposeful lie).
Supporters feel that businesses are required to pay their workers the workers’ definition of “a living wage.” But, opponents say businesses will just hire fewer entry level workers. They point to a negative effect on business profit margins, causing businesses to pass higher prices along to consumers — which, in turn, means even an even higher cost of living (especially for lower income folks).
How will YOU vote on Issue #5?