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LITTLE ROCK — A proposal to gradually raise Arkansas' minimum wage was approved for the November ballot Wednesday, giving Democrats an issue they hope to use to turn out the vote in an election where they're trying to prevent a Republican sweep of statewide offices.

Secretary of State Mark Martin's office said Give Arkansas a Raise Now submitted at least 70,074 valid signatures from registered voters, more than the 62,507 needed to qualify the proposed initiated act for the ballot. The group's proposal calls for raising Arkansas' minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

The group submitted additional signatures last month after falling shy of the number needed. Martin's office said the group had submitted nearly 130,000 signatures total. Steve Copley, the minimum wage campaign's chairman, did not immediately return a call Wednesday morning.

Arkansas is one of three states with a minimum wage lower than the federal level of $7.25 an hour, while five other states haven't established a minimum wage.

Democrats have been pushing the wage increase and touting it as a way to boost turnout in the November election. The party's top candidates, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross, have endorsed the proposal and tried to use it as an issue against their rivals. The party endorsed the minimum wage increase in its party platform earlier this summer.

The proposal so far doesn't face an organized opposition campaign, though most Republican candidates have opposed the wage hike or are cool to the idea.

Pryor's rival, Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, has said he was studying the Arkansas proposal. Asa Hutchinson, the Republicans' nominee for governor, said he supports raising the state's minimum wage to at least the federal level but would prefer to see it done by the Legislature than through a ballot measure.

The proposal faces a potential legal hurdle. A group opposed to another measure approved for the November ballot that would legalize alcohol sales in all 75 Arkansas counties has threatened to challenge that proposal in court and is arguing that the state used the wrong deadline for submitting petitions. Such a challenge could also affect the wage proposal.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more.


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Archived Comments

  • Dontcallmenames
    September 3, 2014 at 11:47 a.m.

    "The measure has been embraced by state Democrats, who are hoping to use the issue to turn out the vote in an election where they're trying to prevent a Republican sweep of statewide offices." Because Democrats are so uninformed about basic economics, they will vote for all handouts and the fallacy of removing all "unfairness". So now people whose only information source is TMZ will be sure to come vote and, our of their ignorance, will vote for Dumbocrats and their issues, and thus ensuring out state's continued decline.

  • Slak
    September 3, 2014 at 11:55 a.m.

    Both John Brummett and I agree with you, Dontcallmenames. This is a political ploy to raise democrat turnout. It is a desperate move, but coupled with the politics of personal destruction, it is Arkansas' Dems' best shot at staying relevant.

  • RestoftheStory
    September 3, 2014 at 12:18 p.m.

    There are better ways to get a raise:
    1) Go to Technical School and learn a skill.
    2) Go to College and become a professional.
    3) Work hard and ask your supervisor for a promotion.
    4) Send out Resumes and find a new job that pays better.
    If you artificially affect the system with an increase in the minimum wage, prices will increase to offset your raise. You will almost immediately be right back where you started or worse. Once store owners get the green light to increase prices, they won't stop with the 50 cents you get with a minimum wage increase.

  • dumblikeme
    September 3, 2014 at 12:37 p.m.

    Inflation increases the cost of living every year, and (most) businesses give cost of living and/or merit raises every year to offset inflation. But if minimum wage doesn't increase to match inflation, those "first time" workers are losing ground, and those on welfare are losing incentive to work.
    I would rather pay someone $20 to wash my car than pay them $10 to watch me wash it.

  • hah406
    September 3, 2014 at 12:49 p.m.

    Who cares if it is a ploy to turn out liberal voters? How is it different than all the anti-gay ballot measures and constitutional amendments that were run up before the voters 10-15 years ago to turn out the conservatives? The fact is that the minimum wage buys much less now than it did 20 years ago, because wages have not kept up with inflation.
    More than that, our motto around here is "Regnat Populus"...the people rule. So let the people vote, and we the people will decide.

  • NoUserName
    September 3, 2014 at 1:41 p.m.

    UAMS, an institution that claims to be broke, was recently offering a DEGREED SCIENTIST the equivalent of ~$11.10/hr. Is it more likely the wage will be proportionally increased or that the degree will be devalued?

  • carpenterretired
    September 3, 2014 at 3:25 p.m.

    Adam Smith in the " The Wealth of Nations" stipulated that employees had to be protected from the employer with the GOPs success over the last thirty years in destroying unions that just leaves government.

  • LR1955
    September 3, 2014 at 4:35 p.m.

    Prices don't have to increase, food portions could decrease. Future conversation at McDonalds, "I'll take one of those 7/32 pounders (before cooking) please"

  • ThinkFree
    September 3, 2014 at 4:51 p.m.

    There goes the $1 menu at McDonalds. :(