Amendment 2: Florida's $15 Minimum Wage Initiative
With nearly every general election in Florida, there are a number of constitutional amendments facing voters, and this year is no different. Among this year’s slate is one that would significantly change (over time) the minimum hourly wage that a worker can be paid, an issue that has been at the forefront of national politics for several years now.
Like many amendments, the increased minimum wage comes with both positive and negative impacts. While it would help lift many workers out of poverty and increase wages even for those not making minimum wage, it would also increase the cost of doing business in the state, and the cost of being a consumer in the state. Many jobs would pay more, but there are likely to be less of them as a result.
Florida is one of 28 states that has established a minimum hourly wage that differs from the federal minimum hourly wage. Florida’s current minimum hourly wage ($8.56) increases on January 1 of each year to match inflation. On November 3, 2020, Florida voters will have an opportunity to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment (Amendment 2) that, if approved by 60 percent of the voters, will increase the state’s minimum hourly wage incrementally (by $1 per year) to $15.00 per hour by September 30th, 2026. From then on, the minimum hourly wage would be adjusted annually for inflation.
Florida TaxWatch has been resolute in our stance that issues that can be solved by the Legislature through the Florida Statutes should be, and that the state’s constitution should be left as a foundational document, the baseplate upon which our state builds its laws and rules, its rights and responsibilties. Changing an item in the constitution means less flexibility for the Legislature, both in good times and bad, and it is incredibly hard to remove. Additionally, given what we have all experienced in the first half of 2020, we know that the business climate in any state can be upended without notice, and what was once a stable environment for local businesses can evaporate overnight. Is this the time to be saddling the state’s small mom-and-pop businesses with increased costs, when simply staying in business is far from a certainty?
In this report, Florida TaxWatch examines the potential impacts of raising Florida’s minimum hourly wage to $15 on Florida businesses and taxpayers. Florida TaxWatch is pleased to present this report and its findings and looks forward to engaging policymakers in discussion during the next legislative session and beyond.