Ballot Measure Would Make Minimum Wage $9.50/Hour - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Ballot Measure Would Make Minimum Wage $9.50/Hour

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(WLNS) - Backers of a minimum wage hike in Michigan say they'll ask voters to approve increasing the rate to $9.50 an hour and eventually bringing tipped employees to the same rate.

Organizers told 6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick that they can get the names and voters will approve it even though businesses will not.

Frank Houston, treasurer of the Raise Michigan ballot committee, says proposed language for a ballot initiative was given to the Secretary of State's office on Monday. 

Michigan's minimum wage is currently $7.40 an hour, slightly higher than the $7.25 federal minimum.

"Our goal is not just to get something on the ballot, but to get people out of poverty," said Frank Houston, treasurer of the Raise Michigan ballot committee.

The petition drive is aimed at college graduates and others who are working for $7.40 an hour and have not had a raise since Jennifer Granholm was governor.

Drive organizer Frank Houston has $1 million to launch the drive which needs about 350,000 signatures to secure a place on the ballot in November to hike the wage to $9.50 an hour.

"The reason we are doing this is there's nearly a million people in Michigan that are living off of poverty wages. You've got 51,000 college students, graduates, they are working minimum wage jobs. You've got 350,000 kids living in poverty whose primary bread winner is a minimum wage worker," said Houston.

The President put in a pitch for boosting pay checks last Friday. "We've got work to do to raise the minimum wage."

But the business community will work hard to kill this plan. Leaders claim it will damage the economy, boost prices for everyone and actually result in jobs being lost.

The Governor, the Senate Top Leader and the House GOP Speaker have not signed off.

But if it looks like the petition drive will be successful, would the republicans offer a compromise to avoid the ballot proposal which could drive more democrats to the polls?

"It would be a nice problem to have to have the governor and legislative leaders speak up for working people and put something on the table for a meaningful raise," said Houston.

But while open to a legislative solution, Mr. Houston says that is not likely.

Under the proposal, the state's minimum wage would increase by 50 cents in January 2015, and again six months later. The final $1.10 increase would occur in January 2016. 

The minimum wage for tipped employees is currently $2.65. That would increase 85 cents each year, starting in January 2015, until it reaches the minimum wage for other workers.

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