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Group of Florida Legislators Take Minimum Wage Challenge

Eighteen state legislators are taking the minimum wage challenge, living on $17 a day. Credit: Cohdra/morguefile
Eighteen state legislators are taking the minimum wage challenge, living on $17 a day. Credit: Cohdra/morguefile
September 28, 2015

MIAMI – Starting today, 18 Florida state legislators will have to pay for food, transportation and anything else they need with just $17 a day.

It's a part of a five-day Minimum Wage Challenge designed to bring attention to the plight of low-wage workers, and to bills in Tallahassee to raise the state minimum wage.

Patricia Walker, a home health care worker, says she works long hours, takes the bus to see clients and barely scrapes by.

"It's hard, because I have to make a choice sometimes between pay all of one bill and be able to feed myself,” she relates. “It's real hard I have to make a choice between everything I do."

A full-time minimum wage worker gets about $1,200 a month, and when you deduct basic living expenses it leaves around $17 a day.

The minimum wage legislation would raise it from $8.05 to $15 an hour.

Opponents say that would cost jobs, but proponents say studies of past wage hikes show that concern to be unfounded.

News conferences regarding the Minimum Wage Challenge are scheduled today in St. Petersburg, Orlando and Miami.

Florida established a minimum wage in 2004. It has risen in response to inflation, but State Sen. Dwight Bullard says that formula has been inadequate, leaving many workers in poverty.

"The minimum wage in Florida is far too low,” he stresses. “You have some estimations that say that if minimum wage kept up with cost of living it would be around $22."

Bullard is a sponsor of Senate Bill 6, which would raise the minimum to $15.

Elsewhere, the Fight for 15 campaign has scored some victories – Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle have adopted it, as has New York state for food service workers. Bills to raise the Florida minimum to $10.10 an hour failed in 2014 and 2015.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - FL