Senate bill addresses minimum wage

Many of the student employees at the Chick-Fil-A on campus earn the minimum wage. Photo by Devante J. Carroll

Imagine working 40 hours every week of the year, and still not having enough money to provide your family with the basic essentials.
Florida’s minimum wage has been an issue for workers for years with high hopes for higher pay.

On Jan. 1, the new minimum wage in Florida went up to $8.56, a 10-cent increase from last year. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Florida, Alaska, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, Ohio and Vermont all have provisions in their minimum wage that required annual adjustments to reflect changes in the cost of living over the preceding year.

State Sen. Jose Rodriguez introduced SB 456 on Jan. 14 in an attempt to revise the formula for the adjusted state minimum wage. The bill was first filed on Oct. 4, 2019.

The state minimum wage went up, but it’s still not enough for people like Destiny Ingraham, a journalism student at Florida A&M University. Ingraham works at the Chick-Fil-A on campus.

“I don’t like working for minimum wage. However, those are the jobs that are hiring the most,” Ingraham said. “The new wage is definitely not enough for my living expenses and one check from $8.56 can barely help me pay rent. It’s hard trying to save and pay bills receiving this type of money.”

Minimum wage becomes even more of an issue when you have no transportation to get to and from work. Uber and Lyft become your main source of transportation, which requires you to pay more than you would like in total expenses for a week of work.

“Most of my money goes towards Ubering home from work because the buses have stopped running by the time I get off,” Ingraham said.

If Rodriguez’s bill is approved, beginning Sept. 30, 2020 and each Sept. 30 thereafter through 2027, the state’s Department of Economy Opportunity will calculate an adjusted state minimum wage by increasing the state wage for 12 months preceding Sept. 1 of that year, plus 80 cents.

SB 456 also proposes that the minimum wage will increase again at the beginning of Sept. 30, 2028 and each Sept. 30 thereafter. The Department of Revenue and the Department of Economic Opportunity are responsible for providing the updated state wage to employers as well as placing that info on their internet home pages by Oct. 15 of each year. All of this will take effect July 1, 2020, according to Rodriguez’s proposal. SB 456 has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Commerce and Tourism Committee.