Missourians will get to vote in November on raising the minimum wage. The Secretary of State says a petition campaign has rounded up enough names to win a place on the November ballot. The two sides in the fight are using some of the same arguments for and against the idea. Give Missouri a Raise is the organization wanting to hike the state minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour with annual escalations tied to the consumer price index. Spokesman Sarah Howard says it’s been almost a decade since the $5.15 minimum wage was established, during which time living costs have gone up considerably. She says people earning the minimum are struggling to make ends meet. She says a study from the Economic Policy Institute puts the buying power of the minimum wage as equivalent to $4.00 an hour. But spokesman Pat Bergauer with a coalition of business group opponents called Save our State’s jobs uses the same argument to oppose. She says costs of energy and gas and other items will make it hard for businesses to pay higher wages. Bergauer says the minimum wage should be established by Congress. Howard says low-wage Missourians have waited for years for Congress to act and should not wait any longer. She says 23 states have upped their minimums. She says annual cost-of-living increases are needed to make sure wage-earners can keep up. Bergauer says her group’s opposition would be significantly less if the indexed wage was not part of the proposal. She says that’s a killer as far as her group is concerned.
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