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A Higher Minimum Wage Helps Those Who Need It Most

November 18, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Over 25,000 signatures have been turned into the South Dakota Secretary of State's Office, seeking to put an initiated measure on next fall's ballot that would increase the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, up from the current $7.25. Opponents says it would be hard on small businesses and lead to layoffs.

However, according to Mark Anderson, president of the South Dakota State Federation of Labor, those who oppose the raise have it wrong.

"I think they can talk about it negatively all they want, but the only thing they need to remember is this is one of the most positive things you can do for economic development, is raise people's wages," he declared. "Particularly at the lower part of the income scale, those kinds of people spend all their money in the communities they live in."

Backers of the drive needed about 16,000 valid signatures to get the issue on the ballot. The Secretary of State hopes to have verification done by early next month.

Anderson said he sees signs of support in the number of signatures, a recent poll, and a recent vote on the minimum wage in New Jersey.

"Well, I think if you look at what just happened in New Jersey, that passed like 69 to 31," he said. "So, I think that when people really take a hard look at this, it is a pretty simple decision. If you raise wages, put money in the pockets of working people, they're going to improve the economy in your area, and I think that's pretty standard."

Anderson said the initiative ties the minimum wage to inflation, so the matter should not have to come back to the voters in the future.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD