Sunday, May 12, 2024


Weekly Opinion Editorial

DON’T SIGN #832!

by Steve Fair

     Oklahoma is one of twenty-four states with an initiative petition process.  The process allows citizens to circulate a petition among voters for the purpose of getting an issue on the ballot.  To get a State Question on the ballot as a statute, eight (8) percent of the voters who voted in the last governor’s race must sign the petition.  To make it a Constitutional amendment, fifteen (15) percent of voters must sign.  Two examples of how the initiative petition has worked in Oklahoma:

      SQ#640 was the result of a 1991-92 grassroots initiative petition movement of less than a dozen people in the Sooner state.  Those dedicated, hardworking Okies were sick and tired of getting a tax increase every year from the legislature, so they rolled up their sleeves and did something about it.  They collected the necessary signatures to get the issue on the ballot, educated the electorate about excessive taxation and government spending.  The result was a Constitutional amendment being approved by a 56-44 margin requiring the legislature to approve tax increases by a 3/4th majority vote of the legislature or a direct vote of the people.  Up until two years ago, the Oklahoma legislature had not passed a tax hike in Oklahoma.  SQ#640 has saved Oklahoma taxpayers billions of dollars and is an example of a positive use of the initiative petition process.  Many of those who spearheaded SQ#640 have passed to their eternal reward and those left are now labeled RINOs by the modern grassroots, but that dirty dozen knew true grassroots politics, how to move the needle and make a positive change.

     But not all initiative petitions are good.  An example of a bad petition is SQ 780/781.  Oklahomans passed SQ#780/781 in 2016 under the pretense (lies) of criminal justice reform.   The consequences of 780/781 has resulted in de-criminalizing and reclassifying former felonies and a marked increase in crime across the state.  The point is Oklahoma’s initiative petition process can be used for good and bad, but through it all, the process has worked equally for all citizens.

     Raise the Wage Oklahoma (RTWO) is out collecting signatures to get proposed State Question #832 on the November ballot right now.  RTWO has until July 14th to get 92,263 valid voter signatures.  SQ#832, if approved by voters, would raise the minimum wage in the Sooner state to $9 hourly in 2025 and gradually increase to $15 hourly in 2029.  Oklahoma’s current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal.  Expect to soon encounter paid solicitors seeking your autograph.  Three observations about SQ#832:

     First, businesses don’t pay wages- their customers do.  Businesses pass their cost (including labor) onto their customers in the form of a price increase.  Raising the minimum wage is a foolish idea that will feed inflation.  Businesses are not sponges.  They don’t ‘absorb’ costs.  It is naïve to believe raising the minimum wage will not result in increases in the price of goods/services to the consumer.

     Second, the vast majority of those receiving minimum wage are young people.  They are often working their first job.  If a business is told they have to pay a higher wage, they will reduce the number of employees so they stay within their necessary labor factor percentage.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), President Biden’s plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 would result in 1.4 million Americans losing their jobs.  That is why Democratic leadership has backed off the proposal.

     Third, government should not be telling business what to pay their employees.  Let a free market determine what wage a person is worth.  If a business is not being fair to their employees, they will have high employee turnover, and will lose their best and brightest.  A good businessperson recognizes their employee’s worth, pays them accordingly and usually prospers.  Penny pinching, cheapskate, money grubbers rarely succeed in business. 

     Don’t sign the SQ#832 petition! If it does get on the ballot, don’t vote for an increased minimum wage.  It will hurt the very people it claims it would help.

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