October 4, 2015
Last week twenty state Democratic legislators took the Minimum wage challenge in the state of Florida. The twenty lawmakers attempted to live on the Florida minimum wage ($8.05 per hour) for 5 days and blogged about their trials and tribulations to shed light on this issue. Led by Senator Dwight Bullard, this challenge was to highlight the need for a raise in the minimum raise, and in support for a bill introduced in the state legislature in July 2015 by Sen. Bullard and Rep. Vic Torrez Jr. to raise the state minimum to $15 dollars per hour.
On day 2 of the challenge, Sen. Bullard was confronted by a dental emergency and a trip to the dentist. Thankful for his medical coverage, he realized that he “would have had to forgo medical treatment if it meant keeping my family fed”. In an Orlando supermarket, Rep. Torrez struggled to buy groceries for that night’s dinner and breakfast the next morning, while keeping his grocery bill under the allotted 12 dollars for those meals. He was guided to the best bargains in the market by a local woman, who as a minimum wage worker herself, has made these tough decision’s every day of her adult life. With everything considered, all of the legislators failed in their attempts to live on minimum wage. Tough decisions in the grocery store, transportation issues and health issues plagued their daily life. As put by Sen. Jeff Clemens, “If there’s someone out there who knows how to do it, I would love to have them explain it to me.”
Sen. Bullard knows he has a hard battle ahead of him in the battle for a higher minimum wage in Florida. Governor Rick Scott and the Republican majority in both houses of the state legislature are against this measure. The goal of both the challenge and minimum wage bill is to shed light on the topic and to bring the debate to the legislature.