Voting yes on Amendment 2 to boost Florida’s minimum wage will either give 2.5 million workers a pay raise or result in 158,000 jobs disappearing over the next few years.
The proposed incremental increase to $15 an hour will greatly reduce the number of households living in poverty and narrow pay gaps experienced by women and people of color. Or the measure will slow economic growth as Florida comes out of the coronavirus pandemic and create long-term effects from which the state might never recover.
While the opposing camps on Amendment 2 offer those dramatically different pictures about what will happen if the minimum-wage measure passes, political experts anticipate that the outcome of the vote on the proposed amendment — one of six on the Nov. 3 ballot — will be close.
Supporters need to win approval from 60 percent of voters to increase the minimum wage, a proposal spearheaded by prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan.
Aubrey Jewett, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, said “when push comes to shove a lot of people will vote for it because they believe on balance it will help average working people.”
Jewett based his projection, in part, on the 71 percent of voters who in 2004 approved a ballot measure that has led to smaller increases in the state’s minimum wage. That measure ties annual increases to inflation.
However, Jewett acknowledged that the fate of Amendment 2 also could be determined by last-minute spending by Morgan and business groups opposed to the proposal, while another key factor could be voter turnout.
“If (Democratic presidential candidate Joe) Biden wins big, that means higher Democratic turnout and higher likelihood of passing,” Jewett said. “If (President Donald) Trump wins big, then the odds go down some with higher Republican turnout.”
If approved, Amendment 2 would increase the state’s minimum wage — currently $8.56 an hour — to $10 on Sept. 30, 2021, and incrementally increase the rate each year until reaching $15 on Sept. 30, 2026.