Petition could increase Arkansas’ minimum wage to $11

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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — There's big news for thousands of people in Arkansas who are struggling to make ends meet.

The state minimum wage could be going up as early as next year. Under the plan, minimum wage jumps to $9.25 an hour next year, $10 an hour in 2020 and $11 an hour in 2021.

The petition requires nearly 68,000 signatures to make it on the ballot in November and put the potential increase voters' hands.

West Memphis resident Shena Dandrige says she struggles to pay her bills. The mother of four makes minimum wage in Arkansas. That's $8.50 an hour.

"Yeah. $8.50. That's not enough to pay for anything really," she said.

West Memphis City Council Member Helen Harris says she would vote for it.

"It's going to benefit the people's as well as the city, because the more money you make the more money you spend."

There's certainly a lot of support for the idea. But there is concern that raising the minimum wage will force some businesses to raise prices, or worse, lay people off.

"Some businesses might have to do that. You know, the small business chains probably have to cut back," Harris said.

But Harris says the pros outweigh the cons.

"Overall, I think it's going to be good," she said.

Arkansas current minimum age is middle of the pack nationwide, but higher than Mississippi's and Tennessee's.

People like Dandrige say they could definitely use a bump.

"It's better. It's a couple of dollar, but it's better," she said.

The petition has been submitted to the Secretary of State, and the state is currently counting the signatures. They have until August 29.


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