Accused of undermining the will of the electorate by proposing a bill to alter the minimum wage passed by South Dakota voters last November, Senator David Novstrup says his Senate Bill 177, which would reduce the minimum wage for workers under age 18 from $8.50 to $7.50 and exempt that youth minimum wage from the annual inflation index, merely deals with an unintended consequence that escaped voters’ attention:
“It wasn’t an attack on the initiated measure that was passed,” Novstrup said. “The bill is about addressing an unintended consequence that wasn’t talked about during the campaign to pass the measure. People need to remember that this is just a minimum wage, it’s not what people have to get paid. I would rather address this on the front end than when young people don’t have jobs because of the minimum wage increase” [Bryan Horwath, “Youth Minimum Wage Bill Sparks Fervent Debate at Cracker Barrel,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.03.08].
Senator Novstrup, were you paying attention during the 2014 campaign? Did you not hear all the people talking about the argument that the minimum wage could cause young people and other lower-skilled workers to have fewer job opportunities?
Like the Rapid City Journal:
…forcing employers to pay more to their lowest-skilled employees could lead to less overall hiring, which isn’t good for anyone [editorial, Rapid City Journal, 2014.10.30].
…and the Watertown Public Opinion:
If this measure was simply to raise the minimum wage once, we might have been for it. But it’s not; it’s based on the Consumer Price Index and as that goes up, so does the minimum wage; just like Social Secruity and other CPI based programs. That can lead to unintended consequences from indexing because if minimum wage keeps going up and up every year, eventually entry-level jobs will be priced out of the market [editorial, Watertown Public Opinion, 2014.10.28].
…and the South Dakota Retailers Association:
Experienced workers may not get the raises they deserve as employers are forced to pay entry-level and unskilled workers more each year. Many employers would be forced to eliminate part-time jobs and combine those duties with those of higher skilled workers. Prices will go up for many goods and services — including essentials such as food and clothing — on all families.
However businesses choose to cut costs, the result means fewer opportunities for South Dakota workers. And a wage hike is of little help when you can’t get a job in the first place. We need to focus on expanding job opportunities, and not take steps that hurt employers’ ability to sustain jobs as well as giving back to their community [Shawn Lyons, South Dakota Retailers Association, op-ed, that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.10.16].
…and the ads from SDRA and their business friends:
…and that Sioux Falls paper:
Under the wrong conditions — a time of high inflation, for instance — the automatic trigger in this measure actually could end up costing jobs rather than helping workers [editorial, that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.10.29].
…and the Yankton paper:
This mandate would hurt those it proposes to help,” he said. “It forces entry level wages to increase at the cost of long-time employees. It would create fewer opportunities for South Dakota workers and really only will help 12,000 employees, or 3 percent of South Dakota’s workforce.”
Lyons said that, in his conversation among the 3,800 small businesses his association represents he is hearing the passing of the initiative will force them to increase prices, lay off workers and reduce the benefits they can offer [Shauna Marlette, “Minimum Wage Increase Debated in Local Forum,” Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2014.10.21].
Are we there yet, David? Or do I need to show it to you in your own local paper, too:
Many proponents of the increase say it is overdue and needed to keep up with cost of living increases, while others argue that increasing the minimum wage will do little but cause businesses to raise prices and potentially limit positions [Bryan Horwath, “South Dakota Workers Struggle to Make Ends Meet on $7.25 Minimum Wage,” Aberdeen American News, 2014.10.12].
Please, Senator Novstrup, stop calling voters uninformed (i.e., stupid). We voters heard throughout 2014 the argument you’re repeating now that kids would have fewer job opportunities if we raised and CPI-indexed the minimum wage. We rejected that argument, because it’s a myth. We raised the minimum wage to $8.50 for everyone, including our kids, and we want it to stay there. Now quit disrespecting voters and young workers and tell the Governor to veto your bad idea.