Sen. Joe Gruters and future House Speaker Chris Sprowls on Monday warned the $15 minimum wage amendment would negatively impact Florida.
Gruters of Sarasota said the negative consequences are evident in “liberal cities” such as Seattle, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
“We’ve seen it kill jobs, close businesses and expand the income gap,” he said. “Their streets are covered in poverty, riots, crime and unrest. Why would we bring their failed policies to the Sunshine State. These are the consequences of the false promise Seattle was sold.”
Joined by Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association President Carol Dover, Sprowls warned the amendment would be a blow to Florida businesses already ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When people try to get up off the floor you don’t kick them back down again,” he said. “The reality is that businesses throughout the state are suffering. They are working hard every single day to get back on their feet, to get their employees back in the door.”
Amendment 2 is a ballot initiative that would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. If passed, Florida’s minimum wage would bump to $10 an hour in 2021 and then rise $1 each year until it hits $15.
While proponents argue a higher minimum wage would lift thousands out of poverty and reduce social program dependency, critics counter that a wage hike will create a slew of negative, unintended consequences.
Ahead of the initiative’s Nov. 3 vote, the FRLA has said they are working to “educate” Floridians on the amendments perils.
“This is a modern day Trojan Horse,” Sprowls continued. “The advocates tell you that it will be a get for Florida workers but the reality is it’s going to have a devastating impact on workers’ jobs, their livelihoods and their ability to find pathways to prosperity.”
Sen. Joe Gruters echoed that sentiment. As a practicing CPA and business owner, he described himself on the “frontlines” of local businesses.
“Ballot amendment two is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” he said. “I am an employer myself and I know that ballot Amendment 2 will destroy hundreds of small business across Florida and kill the jobs they provide for Florida families.”
Gruters told the story of a high school intern he hired who began earning a minimum wage and now earns above $20 per hour.
Both lawmakers argued it would reduce entry level jobs where young people develop skills to move onto higher positions. They also warned it would impact seniors and others on fixed incomes.
Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.56.
Recent polling by St. Pete Polls shows nearly 65% of voters are ready to vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 2. Meanwhile, around 23% of voters would vote against the measure if the election were held today, and nearly 13% remain undecided.
The level of support easily clears the 60% threshold required for voters to amend Florida’s Constitution.