Voters in Missouri and Arkansas will decide next week whether to do what Congress hasn’t done in more than a decade: boost the minimum wage. Both states have referendums on the ballot on Nov. 6 that would bypass their legislatures to gradually raise the minimum wage employers are required to pay. In Missouri, Proposition B would increase it from the current rate of $7.85 per hour to $12 by 2023. In Arkansas, Issue 5 would increase it from $8.50 to $11 by 2021.
The Fairness Project, an advocacy group coordinating minimum wage campaigns around the country, said it is confident both ballot measures will pass, despite Missouri and Arkansas being red states. Support for higher minimum wages often crosses party lines, and such proposals have fared very well when put directly to voters in recent years. “There are people in Washington bragging about the economy, but these initiatives make clear that voters aren’t satisfied,” Jonathan Schleifer, director of the Fairness Project, said on a call with reporters Tuesday. “Congress hasn’t passed a minimum wage increase in what seems like an eternity.”