Rep. Tommy Gregory took aim at attorney John Morgan on Monday, describing his $15 minimum wage push as a “voter turnout trick” deployed deliberately during a presidential election year.
Gregory criticized Morgan’s intentions and his proposed wage hike during a Florida Chamber of Commerce press conference. He described the minimum wage amendment as a ploy to lure voters.
“There’s definitely not a coincidence here,” the Sarasota lawmaker said. “This is all a trick. This is a voter turnout trick and it really is insulting for either party to use a ballot amendment to try to sway an election but that’s exactly what I think has gone on here.”
Amendment 2 is a ballot initiative that would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. If passed by voters, Florida’s minimum wage would bump to $10 an hour in 2021 and then rise $1 each year until it hits $15.
The amendment has drawn sharp criticism from GOP lawmakers and business leaders who say the proposal will do more harm than good, particularly in the era of COVID-19.
While proponents of the amendment 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.
Gregory questioned the famed trial attorney’s motives for the amendment.
“He’s a well-known mega-million dollar donor to the Democratic Party,” he said.
Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson echoed Gregory’s sentiment and described it as a “voter turnout mechanism.”
“A lot of people are using these constitutional amendments, again, as a voter turnout mechanism to try to help a particular candidate one way or another,” he said, citing Florida’s narrowly decided elections.
Several hi-profile GOP figures in recent weeks have spoken out against the amendment alongside pro-business organizations. Last week, Republican Party of Florida Chairman and Sen. Joe Gruters and future house speaker Chris Sprowls warned that wage hikes are failed policies that are evident in “liberal cities” such as Seattle, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
Gregory added his voice to the mix in late September when he launched a political committee in opposition to the amendment. The committee aims to “educate” Floridians on the dangers of a wage hike ahead of Election Day.
While the amendment has come under concerted GOP fire in recent weeks, Wilson conceded that polling suggests the amendment is positioned to pass on Nov. 3.
“If this were on the ballot today, I think it would pass,” he said.
A survey 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.
Florida’s current minimum wage is $8.56.