Floridians have approved an amendment to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026.
With 10.48 million votes counted, 60.8 percent of Floridians voted “yes” on the measure, just barely crossing the 60 percent threshold that constitutional amendments need for approval.
Orlando lawyer John Morgan, who spent millions trying to get the amendment passed, said “God answered my prayers.”
“Tonight the people of Florida gave the working poor a forever raise,” Morgan said in a text message. “This was not a political issue, it was a moral issue.”
The amendment increases the state’s minimum wage from $8.56 to $10 in September next year, then goes up by $1 each year until it reaches $15 in 2026. Florida will be the eighth state where the minimum wage will be set at $15 in the near future.
Supporters said it would lift tens of thousands out of poverty and give them more wealth to spend. Because of the number of low-wage service jobs, Florida’s average income is just 87.4 percent of the national average, a figure that’s been on the decline for the past three years.
Here’s how the other five amendments on the ballot fared:
Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections
An amendment that would add just two words to the state constitution passed easily, capturing nearly 90 percent of the vote.
The amendment tweaks the wording of the constitution to say that “only a citizen” of the United States can vote. Currently, it says that “every citizen” can vote.
Amendment 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor and Cabinet
The amendment to open up the state’s primary elections to all registered voters failed, falling at least 3 percentage points short.
Currently, only registered Democrats can vote in Democratic primaries, and only registered Republicans can vote in Republican primaries. About a quarter of the state’s voters, who aren’t affiliated with a party, have no say in the primaries. Amendment 3 would have created one primary election for governor, state Legislature and Cabinet-level races, with Democrats and Republicans competing against each other and all voters permitted to cast ballots. The two highest vote-getters, regardless of party, would advance to the general election. Often known as a “jungle primary,” it could have meant that two Democrats or two Republicans face each other in the general election.
Amendment 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
An amendment intended to make it much harder to pass constitutional amendments also failed, not even earning 50 percent of the vote. The amendment would have required future constitutional amendments to receive 60 percent of the vote in two elections, rather than one, to take effect.
Amendment 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments
Floridians easily passed an amendment to clean up a loophole in the so-called “Save Our Homes” tax benefit.
Currently, Floridians who move from one homesteaded property to another have two years from Jan. 1 of the year of the sale of the first home to claim the tax benefit. This would give homeowners an additional year to do so.
Amendment 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities
The amendment that would help the spouses of some Florida veterans also passed easily, with nearly 90 percent of the vote so far. The proposal applies to spouses of veterans who were honorably discharged, over the age of 65 and have been permanently disabled by combat. Those veterans can get a discount on their property taxes.