Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage to $9.45 in 2019, and gradually to $12.15 by 2030.
The new law angered activists for a higher minimum wage because lawmakers prevented a ballot proposal from getting a vote that would have increased the minimum wage to $12 eight years sooner. Instead, the GOP-controlled legislature adopted the ballot proposal before it could appear on the ballot and altered it to increase the span of time over which the minimum wage would reach $12 an hour.
The legislation also gradually increases the minimum wage for tipped employees, such as waiters and waitresses, to $4.58-per hour by 2030. The initial ballot proposal would have increased the minimum wage for tipped employees at a faster rate, eventually bringing them up to the full minimum wage by 2024.
Opponents of giving tipped employees the same minimum wage as non-tipped employees have generally pointed out that tipped employees, such as waiters and waitresses, earn more than the minimum wage when tips are added in and that customers may stop tipping when they are being charged extra for services to pay waiters and waitresses.
“The minimum wage bill continues Michigan’s minimum wage approved back in 2014 by providing fixed amount increases based on projected inflation and helps keep us in the top third of states nationally,” Snyder said in a statement.
Snyder called the initial ballot proposal well-intentioned, but said that if it went into effect as written, it would have negatively impacted job providers and could have led to higher unemployment by increasing cost and compliance burdens.
James Hohman, the director of fiscal policy at the Michigan-based, free-market Mackinac Center, said that the bill signed into law will still have negative impacts, but not to the extent that the ballot proposal would have.
“The new amendments to Michigan’s minimum wage will lessen the impact of the policy on both wage earners and employers,” Hohman told Watchdog.org. “The reduction in the increases will mean that fewer people lose their jobs when the state makes it illegal to pay people at their current wage rates.”
Studies have shown that higher minimum wages have led to reduced hours for part-time employees and job cuts as employers seek to keep expenses in line.
Michigan One Fair Wage, which proposed the initial ballot, criticized Republicans for altering the proposal after adopting it. The organization has also stated that the legislative maneuver is unconstitutional and that they are considering legal action.
“One Fair Wage is currently evaluating all options including legal options in response to the recent unconstitutional actions of Gov. Snyder and Lansing Republicans,” Pete Vargas, the campaign manager for Michigan One Fair Wage told Watchdog.org. “We intend to keep fighting until the rule of law is respected, the democratic process is upheld, and the voices of the 400,000 people who signed our petition can be heard.”
A fact sheet provided by the organization argued that waiters and waitresses are being treated unfairly and that they need raises totaling $1.1 billion per year.
Additionally, Snyder signed a bill into law that would provide paid medical leave for employees that also was adjusted from a ballot proposal. He said in a press release that the bills struck a balance between the proposals and the original legislation that would address the needs of workers and employers.