Florida voters on Tuesday approved gradually boosting the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, while narrowly rejecting a proposal that would have overhauled the state’s primary-election system.
The hike in the minimum wage will be phased in through Sept. 30, 2026, but it will represent a significant move in a state heavily dependent on tourism and the service industry for jobs. It was put on the ballot with the financial help of well-known Orando trial attorney John Morgan.
As of Wednesday afternoon, with 10.5 million votes counted, the minimum-wage measure, Amendment 2, had support from nearly 60.8 percent of voters, above the 60 percent threshold needed for passing. The amendment failed in Flagler, garnering just under 59 percent of the local vote.
It will increase the minimum wage to $10 an hour on Sept. 30, 2021, and then increase it by $1 each year until Sept. 30, 2026, when it will be $15 per hour. Currently, the minimum wage is $8.56.
Business groups that opposed the measure conceded defeat late Tuesday. NFIB Florida Executive Director Bill Herrle said an October analysis showed that 20 percent of small businesses were unsure if they would remain operational in the next six months.
“This makes 2021 a greater challenge for small businesses. Throw it on, we’ll see if this breaks the camel’s back,” Herrle said.
Florida is the seventh state to adopt a $15 minimum wage, and supporters said it is needed to improve the standard of living of many workers.
“This will help me a whole lot, I know it will,” said Gail Rogers, a 60-year old Ybor City resident who, after working at McDonalds for six years, said she earns $9.40 an hour.
Rogers, a widow who resides in a rooming house for women, is a member of the nationwide group Fight for $15 and has routinely protested her low wages in recent years.
“I can earn a little more cash. I can save more,” she said of the higher minimum wage. “I can save until I get to where I need to be at. I am not where I need to be at.”
New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland and Connecticut all adopted laws in 2019 to raise their minimum wage to $15 between 2023 and 2025. Massachusetts did so the previous year. New York state approved a law in 2016 to increase the wage to $15 in New York City by 2018, a move that did not affect employment, as feared, at least not until covid struck. New York State’s law applies only in the city. The District of Columbia’s $15-an-hour minimum kicked in last July 1. California also approved a $15-an-hour law in 2016, phased in by 2022. Several states have enacted increases of the minimum wage to $12.
While Amendment 2 faced opposition from many business groups, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was quiet about where he stood on the proposed constitutional amendment until right before Election Day, when he issued a statement in which he said now is “not the time” to increase the minimum wage, warning that its passage would be bad for Florida businesses and the state.
Meanwhile, about 57 percent of voters supported Amendment 3, which, if passed, would have eliminated Florida’s closed primary elections in state races. That was below the 60 percent threshold needed for approval. In Flagler, just 53 percent of voters approved of the amendment.
The proposed amendment would have allowed all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislative seats, governor, and Cabinet seats, regardless of party affiliation. The two candidates who captured the most votes would have moved on to the general election under the proposal.
In all, voters on Tuesday were asked to weigh in on six proposed constitutional amendments.
Amendments can be proposed through citizens’ initiatives, with certain restrictions, including that the measures be limited to single subjects and not misleading. Four of the six amendments on Tuesday’s ballot — Amendments 1, 2 and 3 and 4 — came through initiatives.
Voters on Tuesday rejected an attempt to make it more difficult to amend the state Constitution in the future. Amendment 4 sought to require amendments to be approved by voters twice before taking effect. But it was receiving just 47 percent support Tuesday night, and 46 percent in Flagler.
Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters, issued a prepared statement lauding the result.
“Over the years, the citizens’ initiative process has enabled Floridians to advance important public policies when politicians in Tallahassee have been unwilling to do so,” Webber said. “The ability to amend our constitution is a right guaranteed to the people of Florida, and tonight voters demonstrated that we’re not going to give it up lightly. If anything, the governor and Legislature should strengthen this process by increasing campaign finance transparency and reducing unnecessary barriers that privilege wealthy corporations and dark money.”
But Andrew Wiggins, senior director of political affairs and coalitions advocacy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said proposed constitutional amendments are not only used to change policy but also are used to drive people to the polls
He said that while the minimum wage amendment was meant to draw out progressive voters, Amendment 1, which changed the Constitution to make clear only citizens can vote, was designed to appeal to more conservative voters. Amendment 1 was easily passing Tuesday night, with support from about 79 percent of voters.
“A lot of the amendments in Florida are used as turnout gimmick,” he said, adding that “Florida is one of the “easiest states in the country” to get amendments on the ballot
“They are used by groups to try to motivate voters who might not otherwise turn up for an election to vote up for an election to vote and they see helping their candidate,” he said.
The Legislature by super-majority votes of both chambers agreed to put two proposed amendments in front of voters for the general election: Amendments 5 and 6, both of which passed with overwhelming support–74 and 90 percent statewide, 75 and 92 percent in Flagler.
Amendment 5 will increase from two to three years the length of time accrued “Save our Home” tax benefits may be transferred from prior homesteads. Amendment 6 will allow homestead property-tax discounts for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities to carry over to the veterans’ surviving spouses.
–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida
John the Baptist says
The reality will take place when our wonderful state legislatures meet in 2021. They will figure out some bullshit way to stop this from actually being implemented just as they screwed over the felons and restoring their voting rights. So, what the voters want is mere horse-hockey.
The automatic increase in pay will be $1.00 a year or $40 a week more before taxes, if you work a 40 hour week. However, every time they raise the minimum wage, the prices of everthing else goes up so it almost becomes a wash because a lot of the extra money goes into spending higher prices for merchandise, restaurants and entertainment. etc. Now if the employees also gave their workers a raise once a year in addition to the new minimum, that might work out much better.
I Voted for this and did not think it would get the 60% needed to pass. Its a long time coming if it ever gets implemented. Its a Win Win a start
Congratulations. You just eliminated more jobs for at grocery stores, fast food places that are perfect for teenagers working part time or even full time to make some extra cash. Along with that you will be checking out yourself and the cost of that hamburger just increased.
Dennis C Rathsam says
Well folks…..Hope your happy. Cant wait to take the family to Mickey D’ds, and drop 50.00 bucks for some frys & burgers!!!!!!!
C’mon man! says
Want to make decent money? Learn a trade earn a good living. Can’t even leave the onions off my quarter pounder, and then think they deserve 15 an hour.
Only Me says
Thank you Mr. Morgan for all you do to improve the State of Florida for the people.
It is about time Florida steps up to the plate and get with the times. They have too many ancient laws on the book that needs to be updated.
Mr. Morgan, keep up your great works and seeing Florida gets with the times.
Mike Cocchiola says
We did it! Approval to increase the minimum wage will help people at or near the poverty level to raise their standard of living. Not by much, and if inflation kicks in not at all, but it helps those who need it.
Good going, Florida voters!
Are you kidding? They screwed up the medical marijuana amendment so bad it’s a shell of what the people passed. Nothing good will come of this. They will find a way to invalidate it, spread it out further, or negatively impact the residents of this state. Why even bother voting for amendments? It’s fruitless.
E. Hoffa says
Retired people will have higher costs for basic needs because of this wage increase!
I say Bullshit. Can’t read anymore without a comment. It’s a dollar a year per hour and it doesn’t even start until 9/21. Stop with the Stone Age critics. The National Debt over 100% of GDP will effect prices more . YOUR comments are buffoonery. Do some Research smh
Concerned Citizen says
Minimum wage was never meant to be a pay to live on. It was set up more for high school students getting their first job.
I took the traditional route working at McDonalds while still in high school. I didn’t expect to make 15.00 an hour flipping burgers. Then I went into the Airforce served my time and came home to start a public safety career. As my length of service and training progressed so did my pay. During that time I also worked towards an education. I make pretty decent money now in my second career but again it was earned not given. I learned a trade and earned certifications.
Having a high minimum wage is going to have its pros and cons like anything else. If you’re paying someone 15.00 an hour to flip burgers or bag groceries where is the incintive to progress? Likewise what does this do to our trades and higher risk services? How about costs of services?
I have nothing against anyone making a living. I know times have changed. But I believe that minimum wage is going to cause a lot of problems on down the road.
Awesome that was then this is now.Yeah it won’t be enough and will need to go even higher. Appreciate your service
So then it seems that they will have to increase wages if those who currently make more than minimum wage, I can see the cost of living going up fast very soon. Plus all the manufacturing jobs will also be leaving again, cheaper labor and lower cooperate tax equals food service careers,…..would you like that supersized? Learn that phrase, of course then the kiosks will replace those jobs as well……Enjoy.