Fla. lawmakers work to raise state minimum wage

By Matt Horn, Reporter, Capitol News Service
Published On: Jan 08 2014 05:23:07 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

Florida lawmakers are fighting to raise the state minimum wage for Florida's lowest paid workers. Opponents say it will have a negative affect for Floridians.

Some fast food workers make slightly more than the state's minimum wage of $7.93 an hour. Manager Jason McQueen said it's difficult to make ends meet for many, but a proposed hike in the state's minimum wage may hurt more Floridians in the long run.

"You wouldn't hire like two people. You might hire one person for two if you're paying that much," said McQueen.

Florida Democratic lawmakers are pushing to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour -- even for tipped employees.

"Our hope is, of course, to move people out of poverty, make folks not have to be as reliant on public assistance as they have been in the past," said Sen. Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay).

Republican lawmakers said they won't support such a hike.

"It hurts people and it hurts opportunities for increased employment, and there's just no way you can argue anything other than that," said Rep. Neil Combee (R-Auburndale).

A 2004 Florida constitutional amendment increases the state minimum wage each year to keep pace with inflation. January's increase puts Florida's minimum wage 68 cents higher than the national wage.

The legislation would only force raises for those making the least, not everyone in the workplace.

"Unfortunately you're right; this bill doesn't create a solution for that," said Bullard.

Florida's 2014 minimum wage increase adds roughly an extra $5 a week to a person's paycheck.

The highest industry with workers earning minimum wage are in the leisure and hospitality industry.

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