Three initiative petitions that would ask voters whether to increase Missouri’s minimum wage have been cleared by the Secretary of State’s office for backers to begin gathering signatures.
Supporters of the petitions include Missouri Jobs with Justice. Director Lara Granich says she believes a minimum wage increase is supported by most Missourians.
“The last time voters had a chance to decide about this was in 2006,” said Granich. “At that time, they raised the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.50 an hour and put a cost of living adjustment in. Voters passed that by 76% statewide. They passed it in every single county of the state by 16 points or more.”
Granich thinks a gradual increase is good for businesses and the economy.
“I think it’s important to understand that these increases would be phased in gradually over time and really give businesses a chance to make the adjustments they need to make.”
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce opposes an increase. Legislative Director Brian Bunten says it would be a mandated increase in the cost to do business in Missouri.
“It places Missouri at a competitive disadvantage to our surrounding states.”
Bunten thinks the proposed increases would cause businesses to have to cut costs. “Some of these workers would be reduced to maybe part-time status,” said Bunten. “They could also lose some of their benefits.”
The petitions would increase the wage from the current $7.65 an hour to $9 an hour. One would then increase that by one dollar a year until it reaches $15 an hour, while the other two would increase it to $11 or $12 an hour.