Supporters of Amendment 2, the effort to change the Florida constitution to raise the state's minimum wage to $15, needed to earn more than 60 percent approval from the state's voters on Tuesday, and they did it—barely. Florida voters approved the measure with 60.8 percent of the vote.
"Last night the people of Florida gave the working poor of Florida a forever raise," wrote John Morgan, the well-known attorney from Morgan & Morgan and one of the key backers of the amendment, in a tweet posted Wednesday. "The working poor and their families just got a better life."
The $15 wage doesn't take full effect for six more years. The wage, which is currently $8.56, will rise to $10 next September and then go up $1 each September after that. After reaching $15, it will rise each year to match inflation.
Many low-wage workers, unions and other labor activists supported and campaigned on behalf of the hike. A coalition of business owners known as Florida Business for a Fair Minimum Wage also worked to pass the amendment. That group included five business leaders from Sarasota County, where the amendment earned the approval of 58.4 percent of voters. In Manatee County, 54.9 percent of voters supported the measure.
Many business owners, including several in the restaurant and hospitality industries, opposed the minimum wage hike. They say the change will drive up their labor costs and lead to layoffs.
John Horne, who owns the local Anna Maria Oyster Bar chain, said in a statement, “For months, we have tried to educate the public about the negative impacts this would have on our industry and on other jobs across the Sunshine State. The outcome of this election does not change our concerns, but we’ll work with our team and across the industry to keep fighting to stay alive and save as many jobs as we can.”