Voters in GOP-led states give themselves a raise

Mae Love
November 9, 2018

In addition to Arkansas, Missouri considered a referendum on election day that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.85 to $12 by 2023. In that case, city leaders in St. Louis and Kansas City had passed ordinances to boost local baseline wages, but Missouri's Republican-led General Assembly issued a preemption law, which meant the cities had to obey the state law when it came to the minimum wage.

In Missouri, voters approved the minimum wage ballot question by a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent. The legal minimum wage will rise to $9.25 an hour on January 1, $10 a year later and $11 the year after that.

Supporters of a higher minimum wage, clean elections and medical marijuana are looking at the next steps to implement the ballot initiatives, while warning politicians not to try to undermine them.

Arkansas minimum wage goes to $9.25 an hour January first, then rises to $11 an hour by 2021. In 2018, the minimum wage increased 15 cents per hour to the current rate of $7.85 per hour.

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By passing the initiative, Arkansas joins a long list of states that are increasing the wage floor in lieu of congressional action.

Because the federal minimum wage doesn't appear likely to receive a boost under the Trump administration, state and municipal lawmakers are enacting local laws to push up the baseline pay rate. The minimum wage in both cities reverted back to $7.70 per hour-the Missouri state minimum wage at that time. In Alaska, minimum wage employees will only see a 5-cent-an-hour increase in their wage.

According to the Missouri Ethics Commission, proponents of Prop B (including Raise Up Missouri, Sixteen Thirty Fund, and the Black Progressive Action Coalition) spent almost $6 million on the measure.

But statewide ballot measures have given worker advocates an end-run around legislation to hike the minimum wage. Opponents of the initiative claimed that a minimum wage increase usurps the federal government's right to set wages and would hurt small businesses and Missouri's job market. Meanwhile, minimum wage employees in Massachusetts, Maine, and at large companies in California will be noticing the largest hike, with an increase of $1.00 an hour.

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