Florida minimum wage hike would hurt Lee County small businesses

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FILE: Minimum wage illustration. (Credit: MGN/FILE)
FILE: Minimum wage illustration. (Credit: MGN/FILE)

The minimum wage in Florida could soon increase to $15 an hour. While that may sound like a good thing, not everyone is happy about the increase in pay.

Tens of thousands of people in Florida work for minimum wage. A measure to nearly double Florida’s minimum wage could be added to the ballot next year, meaning small businesses like B2 Technology Solutions could suffer.

The amendment calls for the minimum wage to increase to $15 an hour gradually. Before taxes, the new rate would push the yearly salary to $32,100 per year. Right now, minimum-wage employees who work 40 hours at the current rate of $8.46 earn about $17,596 a year. If 60% of voters vote ‘yes,’ the minimum wage would go to $10 an hour in 2021.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has come out publicly against the amendment. He said it might cause an upheaval in the restaurant industry.

Philip Stalnaker works at a small business of eight people. He fears a yes vote would hurt people rather than help.

“What if that same employer said, ‘yeah, you’re getting twice as much money, but you can only work half the hours. And by the way, since you’re only working half the hours, we can’t offer you benefits anymore,'” Stalnaker said.

Colleen DePasquale said 80% of companies in Lee County are small businesses. By her statistic, the wage hike would have a significant impact on the county economy.

“You start with the housekeeper that gets bumped up to [$]15,” DePasquale said. “Then what does that do to the rest of the hotel? Everybody’s got to rise up then. So then you’re impacting not just that minimum wage line but everyone in the hotel.”

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