As far as minimum wage goes, the United States is in the middle of the pack for developed countries. Australia leads the list with a minimum wage that is more than twice the US. Mexico brings up the rear with a minimum wage of $0.58 per hour.
While the minimum wage can fluctuate from state to state, the minimum across the board is typically $7.25 per hour. That’s what it is here in Idaho and at least one group says that’s not enough.
When it comes minimum wage, Anne Neese says it’s a moral issue.
“I’ve always felt, and you can read it in the bible, honor the workers in the field,” said Neese. “They are worth it. They should be able to afford food, clothing and shelter and transportation to their work. And $7.25, you do the math, it doesn’t work.”
It’s more than just lip service; Anne already has a bill ready for the state legislature
“We already know that it’s a nonpartisan issue,” continued Neese. “In other words, people from both parties support this because it’s just important to reward going to work. “
Anne says as many as 60 percent of Idaho residents are at poverty level and currently 230,000 Idahoans are on food stamps. She believes raising the minimum wage would have a positive effect on the state’s budget.
“Long term, it’s better for businesses because it floats all the boats if everybody has to abide by the same law,” said Neese. “When you lead the nation in minimum wage workers, than those workers can’t buy the products from local small businesses. And so if everybody has to abide by the same law, all businesses will eventually profit.”
Idaho would have company in the northwest as Washington, Montana and Oregon have already passed initiatives to raise their minimum wage. Raise Idaho is collecting signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. In order to do this, they need to collect 53,751 signatures by November 4th of next year.
The proposed initiative would gradually increase the minimum wage in Idaho to $9.80 over a three year period
Anne anticipates that about 22 percent of the signatures will come from Bannock County. You can learn more about the push to raise Idaho’s minimum wage at this link, http://www.raiseidaho.org/