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November 08, 2006
6 States Boost Minimum Wage

Voters in six states have approved proposals that raise their state's minimum wage and tie it to changes in inflation, according to several media outlets.

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This year, there were ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage in six states--Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio. While the votes are still being counted in some of the states, the Washington Post and CNN are projecting that all of the minimum-wage proposals will pass.

In Arizona, voters approved Proposition 202, which raises the minimum wage to $6.75 beginning January 1, 2007, and requires that the minimum wage be adjusted for inflation annually. About 66 percent of voters approved the measure, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports.

In Colorado, about 53 percent of voters approved Amendment 42, which raises the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour. The amendment also requires that the minimum wage be adjusted annually for inflation.

In Missouri, about 76 percent of voters approved Proposition B, which raises the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.50 per hour. The measure also requires that the minimum wage be adjusted annually for changes in the cost of living.

In Montana, 74 percent of voters approved Initiative 151, which raises the minimum from $5.15 per hour to $6.15 per hour and subjects the minimum wage to an annual cost-of-living adjustment. The minimum wage rate for employees of a business whose annual gross sales are $110,000 or less stays at $4 an hour. The new minimum wage is effective January 1, 2007.

In Nevada, about 69 percent of the state voted yes on Question 6, which establishes a higher minimum wage for employers who don't provide health benefits to employees. For employers that provide employees with health benefits, the minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. Under the measure, the minimum wage is $6.15 per hour worked if the employer does not provide health benefits. The ballot initiative also requires that the minimum wage to be adjusted annually for increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

In Ohio, about 56 percent of the state voted yes on Issue 2, which raises the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85. The minimum wage for employees under the age of sixteen and employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of $250,000 or less is the same as the federal minimum wage rate, which currently sits at $5.15 per hour. The ballot initiative also requires the state to adjust the minimum wage rate annually for changes in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

This year, Democrats tried to use the minimum wage in their campaigns to take control of the House and Senate, vowing to raise the federal minimum wage if they do. Democrats beat Republican incumbents for Senate seats in Ohio and Missouri. In Montana, Democrat Jon Tester leads Republican incumbent Conrad Burns by fewer than 2,000 votes with 91 percent of precincts reporting. Democrats need to win Montana and Virginia, another close race with the Democratic challenger ahead, to have take control of the Senate. Democrats have picked up enough seats to win the House.

If the votes on the six ballot initiatives hold, more than half of states in the country will have a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum wage.

Sources: Washington Post, CNN, and the National Conference of State Legislatures

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