Proposed measures on this November’s election ballot could change the economic landscape of South Dakota.
Initiated Measure 18 would amend state law to raise the state’s hourly minimum wage for non-tipped workers from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, effective Jan. 1, 2015.
Every year, the minimum wage would be adjusted if there is an increase in the cost of living, measured by the Consumer Price Index, and would never be decreased. The hourly wage for tipped employees would be half of the minimum wage for non-tipped employees.
Juniors Jordyn Larson and Shannon Billie have both worked jobs where they were paid the minimum wage. Larson has worked as a lifeguard as well as a waitress.
“It was pretty tough when you put in so many hours,” Larson said.
When she switched to a job that paid $12, Larson said the pay made a large difference. Larson said a rise in the minimum wage could have the same impact on others.
“Those living paycheck to paycheck, it could make a big difference, and for students, too,” Larson said. “A lot of the time, that’s what kinds of jobs you can find.”
Billie made minimum wage when she started as a cashier at Panera Bread, and again at a desk worker in Brookman Hall. Because she is limited in how many hours she can work each week, Billie said she’d welcome a raise in the state minimum wage.
“I think that would make a huge difference,” Billie said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2013, 6,000 employees were paid minimum wage, and 6,000 were paid below minimum wage. About 2.4 percent of workers in the state were paid minimum wage, and about 2.4 percent were paid below the minimum wage.
Senior Sam Reuland is against raising the state minimum wage and said doing so would cause immediate job loss.
“It’s a bad thing for the economy as a whole,” Reuland said. “It’s an arbitrary setback against the free market.”
Reuland has previously worked a job making minimum wage when he maintained a ball field in White Lake. He said the minimum wage is designed for career starters.
“You’re not supposed to sustain a life on minimum wage,” Reuland said.
Other amendments on the South Dakota ballot this year include Amendment Q. If passed, it would allow roulette, keno and craps in Deadwood and on-reservation tribal casinos. The casinos currently are authorized to have limited card games and slot machines.
Initiated Measure 17 would require health insurers to include all willing and qualified health care providers on their provider lists. The measure would require that health care providers who are willing, qualified and meet the conditions of the insurer to be included on a provider list.
It would not apply to all health insurers, insurance and plans.