Usually in election years, well-meaning Arkansans are on the defensive, trying to resist the latest prejudicial proposals from Jerry Cox and his Family Council. This year, for a change, there may be issues on the ballot that Arkansans of good will can vote for.
A group called Give Arkansas a Raise Now is gathering signatures for a proposed initiated act that would raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $7.25. The group’s members include the president of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, the president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP, and the chief executive officer of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association. A bill to raise the Arkansas minimum wage to $8.25 an hour failed in the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives last year.
Opponents of the proposal will argue once again that raising the minimum wage will raise unemployment. They will say that people who don’t know this are ignorant of economics. The proper reply to this argument is that the people who make it don’t know history. The record shows repeatedly that unemployment does not go up when the minimum wage goes up.
The record also shows that Arkansas’s commitment to a low-wage policy has kept the state and its residents pinned near the bottom economically. We deserve a chance to improve.