TALLAHASSEE – Two state Republican leaders added their voices Monday in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would gradually boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour in Florida.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters, a state senator from Sarasota, and incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, described the ballot initiative as “a Trojan horse,” “a trap door” and “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” that will bring to Florida “failed policies” from liberal cities where streets are “covered in poverty, riots, crime.”
“Voting ‘no’ on Amendment 2 may save your favorite restaurant from closing, or your favorite waiter or waitress from losing their job,” Sprowls, who will become House speaker after the November elections, said during an online press event with a top lobbyist for the restaurant and hotel industry.
Gruters, a certified public accountant, contended the state’s current minimum wage is primarily for entry-level positions and that the ballot measure would destroy hundreds of small businesses across Florida.
“This is not about siding with corporations, it’s about siding with Florida families,” Gruters said. “If you want to give individuals opportunities in the future to get those entry-level positions, like one of the interns in my office who started at minimum wage, and I’m lucky to keep him at $20 an hour in just under a year and a half.”
But prominent Orlando attorney John Morgan, who has spearheaded the drive to pass the amendment, disputed that a minimum-wage increase would result in layoffs or reduced worker hours, as opponents argue.
“When they say this is going to force people to lay off people, think about this for a minute: what they’re saying is that right now, all these businesses have people working there that they don’t really need,” Morgan