Backers OK’d to gather signatures to put increased minimum wage issue on ballot

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2023

COLUMBUS (AP) — A proposal to raise Ohio’s minimum wage to $15 an hour cleared another hurdle Monday on its way to the statewide ballot.

The Ohio Ballot Board voted to certify language submitted by Raise the Wage Ohio as a single issue, clearing the campaign to begin gathering signatures. Proponents must collect 413,446 valid signatures to make the November 2024 ballot.

The group proposes a constitutional amendment to increase the minimum wage in the state to $12.75 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2025, and to $15 an hour beginning Jan. 1, 2026. 

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After that, previously approved increases indexed to inflation would continue at the higher rate.

The amendment also would repeal current language that allows employers to pay tipped employees less than, but not less than half, of the minimum wage. Instead, it would allow employers to pay $4 less than the minimum beginning Jan. 1, 2025, $3 less the following year, and so on until tipped employees receive the minimum wage as their base pay beginning Jan. 1, 2029. They could earn tips in addition.

Backers of the proposal have called the increase long overdue. They say that the current system allows Ohioans who are working hard to fall behind.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure.

CEO Steve Stivers said Monday that the pro-business organization believes free-market forces result in appropriate wages for workers. He noted that the state already has minimum wage increases indexed to inflation.

“The results of this ballot initiative will be more automation, fewer jobs and picking winners and losers; it punishes some of the very people it purports to help,” he said in a statement.