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Higher Ohio Minimum Wage Could Be on November Ballot

by J.D. Davidson


A year after language was approved for a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage in Ohio, organizers are still collecting signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

A coalition, Raise the Wage Ohio, received approval for the proposed amendment nearly a year ago from the Ohio Ballot Board and has been collecting the more than 413,000 signatures since.

Signatures must be from half, or more, of the state’s 88 counties. In those 44 counties, they must get eligible signatures equaling at least 5% of the gubernatorial vote total from that county.

Attorney General Dave Yost approved the petition language in 2022.

The proposed amendment, which organizers say could appear on the November general election ballot, would raise the minimum wage starting Jan. 1. It would then increase for the following three years until it reaches $15 an hour Jan. 1, 2028. Minimum wage increases after that would be tied to inflation rates based on the consumer price index.

As previously reported by The Center Square, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed amendment, saying it will hurt small businesses that continue to struggle.

“The proposed minimum wage amendment to the Ohio Constitution is not only ill-advised and economically detrimental, it would be next to impossible to correct once the unintended consequences transpire,” Chamber CEO Steve Stivers said.

Nearly 400,000 Ohioans were expected to benefit from a new minimum wage after voters tied the pay to inflation nearly two decades ago.

The state’s minimum wage jumped Jan. 1 to $10.45 for nontipped employees and to $5.25 an hour for tipped employees for businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $385,000. That increase was expected to benefit nearly 400,000 Ohio workers.

Last year’s minimum wage in Ohio was $10.10 for nontipped and $5.05 for tipped.

In 2006, Ohio voters approved an amendment that ties the state’s minimum wage to the inflation rate.

The effort to gather the needed signatures to appear on the ballot comes as the National Federation of Independent Business released a statewide survey of Ohio businesses. The NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index fell by 0.9 of a point in March to 88.5. It’s the lowest level since December 2012.

That was the 27th straight month below the 50-year average of 98.

Also, the net percentage of owners raising prices rose 7 points from February to 28%.

“Inflation continues to drive up prices across the board, and that creates uncertainty among small business owners and their customers,” NFIB Ohio Director Chris Ferruso said. “Owners aren’t going to make any unnecessary investments until they’re confident the worst is behind us.”

Overall, 25% of small business owners said inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, with higher input and labor costs. That figure was up 2 points from February.

Ten percent of business owners said labor costs are their top issue, while 18% found quality labor is the biggest problem.

The Center Square was unsuccessful in obtaining comment via email from Raise Wage in Ohio.

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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square. 





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