Sen. José Javier Rodríguez on Tuesday voiced his support for a constitutional amendment that would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Speaking alongside labor and community leaders, the Democratic lawmaker described the Legislature as a “special interest-dominated” body which, in years past, needed to be circumvented to address other wage issues.
He called on voters to do the the same in 2020.
“The leadership we need is not in the Legislature…” Rodríguez said. “We as voters and as everyday people rely on citizens initiative projects.”
If approved by 60% of voters, Amendment 2 would bump Florida’s minimum wage to $10 in 2021. Thereafter, the minimum wage would increase each year by $1 until reaching $15 in 2026.
Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.65 an hour.
Rodríguez expects the minimum wage, which is required to adjust annually for inflation, to rise by nine cents in 2021 for an adjusted hourly wage of $8.55.
“In my community no one thinks we should have to work two and three jobs just to get by,” he said. “That does not make sense.”
The minimum-wage initiative is one of six constitutional amendments that voters will decide on Nov. 3.
The Miami-Dade lawmaker also spoke out against Amendment 4. If passed, it would require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters in two elections instead of one.
Rodríguez said voter initiatives and constitutional amendments have “been under attack for a long time.” He cited the 2004 constitutional amendment that enacted Florida’s minimum wage as a turning point.
“The successful effort by voters in 2004 was part of the inspiration for these special interests groups that are continuously attacking the ability for voters to amend the Constitution,” Rodríguez said.
On Monday, Sen. Joe Gruters and future House Speaker Chris Sprowls warned the $15 minimum wage amendment would negatively impact Florida.
Gruters of Sarasota said negative consequences of a wage hike are evident in “liberal cities” such as Seattle, Washington D.C. and Chicago.