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Michigan Business Leaders Concerned Over Minimum Wage

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Voters in New Jersey recently approved a higher minimum wage and Michigan business leaders are concerned the same thing could happen here.

As Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick reports those business leaders are still hunting for a way to kill the minimum wage boost.

Backers of the petition drive to boost the minimum wage for workers in Michigan claim they have about 50,000 of the 300,000 signatures required to place this on the ballot.

Business leaders fought the issue in new jersey last year and when the dust settled they got 39 percent of the vote. The pro-minimum wage side got 61 percent, game over.

Charlie Owens, a small business lobbysist worked on the New Jersey campaign and quickly discovered that when you explain to voters that the cost of goods and services will go up, if the minimum wage goes up, the voters ignored the so called economic argument.

He thinks voters want to help somebody else, making it an emotional vote.

"I'd really like to help somebody out and it's tempting to help someone with other people's money, which is what you are dong voting for a minimum wage. So I think it's a feel good thing, but it doesn't get a lot of economic thought," said Owens.

Even though pro-minimum wage lobbyist Frank Houston still expects the business folks to be aggressive in blocking this effort.

Reporter: "You are not worried?"

Houston: "We're going to raise money and need a lot of it to fight the millions against us from the Michigan chamber, the nra and other people.

Business leaders have met privately to map out a strategy, but so far no decisions have been made on what message they will use.

Reporter: "Do you assume you will lose?"

Owens: "It will be a tough fire and we will see."

Houston hopes to have enough signatures by May 28 to send this to the legislature for approval.

If the house and senate refuse to act on it, it would go to the voters, but lawmakers could also offer a compromise.

Owens: "The members I work for are not amminable to doing anything with minimum wage, so we probably would not be in a position to do a deal."

Others in the business community might, and in fact they did just that once before.

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