COLUMBUS, Ohio — Next week, the push to increase Ohio’s minimum wage could move one step closer to getting on a ballot in 2024.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Ohio's Ballot Board will meet next week to decide if the citizen-led initiative focuses on just one issue.

The decision ultimately comes days after Attorney General Dave Yost approved the language being used.

What You Need To Know

  • The proposed citizen-led amendment could raise the minimum wage

  • The goal for advocates is to get the minimum wage to $15 an hour 

  • Policy Matters Ohio said people of color and women would benefit

 Michael Shields is a researcher with Policy Matters Ohio, a group that’s in favor of raising Ohio’s minimum wage.

"We saw that there were about one and a half million Ohioans who would benefit from that raise, that the typical worker, depending on whether we also eliminated the subminimum wage for tipped workers," Shields said. "If we did that, the typical worker would see an increase of about $3,900. And that's also something that this initiative would do."

The proposal that’s pushing to get in front of voters would increase the state’s minimum wage to $12.75 an hour in 2025, and then to $15 an hour in 2028.

Shields said this could potentially boost the economy. However, Chris Ferruso, the Legislative Director of the Ohio National Federation of Independent Business, said he disagrees.

"Any time you increase your most expensive business input, it forces you to make difficult decisions," Ferruso said. "You have to reassess whether or not you can keep your existing employees at their same hours, whether you have you can keep the same amount of benefits, whether you can keep the same number of employees, or you have to reduce your labor force in order to make up for those increased costs."

Ferruso saidt it could potentially lead to an inflated economy. 

"Businesses are going to have to respond. They're going to potentially increase their prices. And at what point do their products or services become unaffordable or that folks not want to purchase them? And what I really think happens is the cost of goods and services goes up for everyone," said Ferruso. 

Regardless of whether you’re in favor, or against the issue, some are wondering if this is an issue that belongs in Ohio’s Constitution.

"in the current state of the law, it is some would say it's not an appropriate amendment because it does deal with, so to speak, a budgetary matter," said Mark Brown, Chair of Law, Capital University Law School."You might say. But you know, so what? I mean, there's lots of stuff that is in the constitution, the Ohio constitution, that some people don't believe should be in there." 

Brown is a strong believer in the initiative process and hopes voters take it seriously.

"My advice to the voters would be to read the proposed amendment carefully to make sure that it is something that you support before signing off on the petition. And then, you know, if you do get to the ballot booth and it still is on the ballot, you know, again, to read it carefully, consider it carefully. I think the initiative process all by itself is very valuable," Brown said. 

The Ohio Restaurant Association released this statement to Spectrum News that says in part...

"If Raise the Wage were to pass, Ohio’s small, independent, and often-time one location operators (especially those in Ohio’s smaller towns and cities) would be the most impacted. In the face of soaring food and supply costs, a fast-tracked prematurely inflated minimum Wage hike would place an additional financial burden on Ohio’s small businesses."

If the issue passes the Ballot Board, advocates will then need to collect more than 400,000 valid signatures by July.