The minimum wage debate has mainly taken place in liberal-dominated states, but the issue could finally, WHTC reports.
When November rolls around, ballot initiatives are set to be forwarded in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota, in order to consider raising the minimum wage about the national rate of $7.25 an hour.
If successful, the an increase in the hourly rate would place significant pressure on Congress to increase the national rate, given that it would indicate a much broader support for minimum wage that transcends party lines.
Even in a red state like Arkansas, a poll earlier this year found that 8 out of 10 voters support an increase in the minimum wage. Alaskan Republicans also tried to raise wages this year, but their efforts were crushed by Democrats, who want voters to make the decision through the form of a ballot initiative instead.
How much the minimum wage will increase depends on each state’s initiative, but President Barack Obama has been pushing for a relatively high minimum wage, and in the 2013 State of the Union address, Obama updated his proposed rate from $9 to $10.10 an hour.
The last time Congress acted on the minimum wage was in 2007, after it voted for an increase following successful ballot initiatives in a variety of states. Last year, 13 states raised their own minimum wage, as did six cities.
If the ballot initiatives are successful, the increase would benefit 419,000 workers, according to the left-leaning National Employment Law Project—a far cry from the White House estimates of 28 million workers.
But while minimum wage initiatives may be popular with voters, business groups argue that increase wage rates would slow job creation.
“It’s other people’s money — it’s easy to spend,” said Denny DeWitt, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Alaska.
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