It is clear that Nebraskans truly value both hard work and family. In yesterday’s election, Nebraskans voted to approve Initiative 425, which will increase the state minimum wage to $8/hr in 2015 and to $9/hr in 2016. The initiative received overwhelming bipartisan support, showing that Nebraskans believe that working full time should allow workers enough income to provide basic needs for their families. In some districts, support for the initiative reached over 60% of voters.
The journey began last legislative session during which Senator Jeremy Nordquist introduced LB 943, a bill that would have increased the minimum wage but unfortunately failed to advance in the Legislature. Consequently, Senator Nordquist proposed Initiative 425 in the hopes that the citizens of Nebraska would take matters into their own hands by advancing the initiative to the November ballot, and then voting to pass the initiative. Nebraskans for Better Wages collected nearly 135,000 signatures for the petition that put the initiative on the ballot.
As our Family Bottom Line Calculator shows, families in Nebraska can’t survive on $7.25 an hour, and now they won’t have to. Increasing the minimum wage is a huge step in the right direction for Nebraska working families with additional benefits to businesses and the economy through boosted consumer spending, job growth, and decreased reliance on public assistance programs. However, there is still progress to be made in the legislature in order to support Nebraska working families, especially when it comes to balancing the demands of work with family needs. Offering paid family and medical leave, paid sick days, and affordable health care to all workers are essential next steps in improving the lives of working families. With strong affirmation coming from Nebraskans in support of working families yesterday, we hope that the State Legislature will continue to make Nebraska’s working families a priority in the years to come.
A huge thank you goes out to all those who signed the petition and went to the polls yesterday to give Nebraska’s hardworking families a raise!