If there was a silver lining in Tuesday’s elections it was that even as they elected Republicans who would repeal the federal minimum wage, voters in four red states approved ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage in their states.
Alaska, South Dakota, Nebraska and Arkansas all passed the measures by comfortable margins.
In Alaska, measure 3 which raises the minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 on January 1, 2015 and again on January 1, 2016, passed 154,516 to 70,082 or 69 percent to 31 percent.
In Arkansas, issue 5 passed with 543,466 votes in favor and 287,945 opposed, raising the minimum from $6.25 to $7.50 in January, then $8 an hour in 2016 and $8.50 in January of 2017.
Nebraska passed initiative 425 by a vote of 301,968 to 207,841, an 18 point margin, and raises the state’s minimum from $7.25 to $8 next year and $9 in 2017.
In South Dakota where measure 18 passed 55 percent to 45 percent with a vote of 150,818 in favor and 123,086 against, the new minimum will increase from $7.25 to $8.50 in January with annual cost of living increases thereafter.
These measures were passed by the same voters who elected Republicans who support elimination of all minimum wages, state and federal, to represent them in Washington and their state capitols. In some instances, support for the ballot measures confused the politicians as well. In Alaska, Republican Dan Sullivan (who holds a 49 to 45 percent lead over incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Begich with the race not yet declared) reversed his position opposing the measure and endorsed it at the last-minute.
These 31 states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages above the federal minimum as of the first of next year. While none of these will raise the minimum to the level it would be at if it had kept pace with the rate of inflation, it is a step in the right direction and a signal to businesses that the workforce of the U.S. is not their personal property.
h/t: Huffington Post