Politics & Government

Arkansas minimum wage hike makes fall ballot

A proposal to gradually raise Arkansas’ minimum wage was approved for the November ballot on Wednesday, giving Democrats an issue they hope to use to turn out the vote in an election where they’re trying to prevent a Republican sweep of statewide offices.

Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office said Give Arkansas a Raise Now had submitted more than 70,000 valid signatures from registered voters, more than the 62,507 needed to qualify the proposed initiated act for the ballot. The group’s proposal calls for raising Arkansas’ minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour by 2017.

The group had submitted additional signatures last month after falling shy of the number needed.

Arkansas is one of three states with a minimum wage lower than the federal level of $7.25 an hour, while five other states haven’t established a minimum wage.

Democrats have been pushing the wage increase and touting it as a way to boost turnout in the November election. The party’s top candidates, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor and gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross, have endorsed the proposal and tried to use it as an issue against their rivals. The party endorsed the minimum wage increase in its party platform earlier this summer.