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Wage Increase In Voters' Hands?

ARKANSAS--An issue potentially making its way to the ballot this November, an increase to Arkansas' minimum wage.
ARKANSAS--An issue potentially making its way to the ballot this November, an increase to Arkansas' minimum wage.

The group "Give Arkansas a Raise Now" is actively working to raise the state minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50.

More than 77,000 people signed on for the proposal to increase wages. Once those signatures are verified, the issue will be on the November ballot, but not everyone supports it.

"More than 1 in 10 arkansas children have a parent who would be directly affected by this if it were passed," said Laura Kellams.

She is helping to get a minimum wage increase onto the ballot with the group "Give Arkansas a Raise Now." Kellams said at $6.50 an hour, it's clear increasing wages are a must.

"People are getting tired of the idea that we aren't making sure that hard-working families can make ends meet and they take initiative of their own and thank goodness for this process so we can do that," said Kellams.

"It's not always true that you can just raise the minimum wage and then that means the people who are making it get more money in their pocket," said UA Economist, Kathy Deck.

The issue goes beyond just the folks who would see a pay raise.

"If you are a business owner obviously, and you have to pay your workers more, it increases your cost. And a lot of businesses feel they can't pass along their cost to consumers."

Deck says some businesses would have to absorb costs - and cut profits. That possibility could have a negative effect at the polls.

"It's hard to see how raising the minimum wage would make Arkansas more efficient. It's not clear that it's going to have the effect -- that's it's intended to have. That being said, it's not clear that it's the end of the world either," said Deck.

But those fighting for higher wages have high hopes.

"Arkansas for years was called the land of opportunity and we don't want our state to be one in which people who work hard and play by the rules have trouble putting food on the table," said Kellams.
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