Alaska Minimum Wage Increase, Ballot Measure 3 (2014)
- 1 Aftermath
- 2 Election results
- 3 Text of measure
- 4 Background
- 5 Support
- 6 Opposition
- 7 Reports and analyses
- 8 Media editorial positions
- 9 Path to the ballot
- 10 Similar measures
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 References
The measure increased the state's minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 beginning January 1, 2015. It was scheduled to be increased again on January 1, 2016, to $9.75 per hour. From that point on, the minimum wage was slated to be adjusted based on inflation or to remain $1 higher than the federal minimum wage, whichever amount is greater. As a result of the measure's passage, Alaska was projected to have one of the highest minimum wages of any state in 2016.
The initial increase from $7.75 to $8.75 was delayed to begin on February 24, 2015, rather than January 1, 2015. Alaska law states that ballot initiatives cannot go into effect until 90 days after an election is certified, causing a delay in implementation. The 2016 increase to $9.75 is still set to go into effect on January 1, 2016.
Below are the official, certified results:
|Alaska Ballot Measure 3|
Election results via: Alaska Division of Elections
Text of measure
The official ballot title of this measure read as follows:
Ballot Measure No. 3 - 13MINW An Act to Increase Alaska’s Minimum Wage
The full ballot summary read as follows:
|“||This bill would raise Alaska’s minimum wage from $7.75 per hour to $8.75 per hour as of January 1, 2015. The bill would raise the minimum wage to $9.75 per hour as of January 1, 2016. The bill would adjust the minimum wage each year for inflation after 2016. The bill creates a method for this adjustment. Under the bill, if the adjusted minimum wage is less than one dollar over the federal minimum wage, Alaska’s minimum wage will be one dollar over the federal minimum. Tips or gratuities would not count toward the minimum wage. The bill has a statement of findings and declaration. This statement gives reasons for the bill. The reasons pertain to quality of life for low income workers, the effect of increases in the cost of living, the relationship of the Alaska minimum wage to the federal poverty level, and the minimum wage in other states.
Should this initiative become law? 
Full initiative text
The full initiative text read as follows:
Initiative Petition Bill Language by Petition Sponsors A Bill Increasing Alaska’s Minimum Wage
FOR AN ACT ENTITLED “An Act increasing the Alaska minimum wage to $8.75 per hour effective January 1, 2015, $9.75 per hour effective January 1, 2016 and thereafter adjusted annually for inflation.”
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
Section 1. Findings and Declaration
The people of the State of Alaska find and declare that: (a) An increase in Alaska’s minimum wage will help ensure a minimum standard of living for the health and well being of every Alaskan, (b) Alaskans working full-time at the current minimum wage earn far below the federal poverty level for a family of three, (c) The U.S. West Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California already have a higher minimum wage than the State of Alaska, (d) A fair minimum wage indexed to the cost of living will help low-income workers keep pace with inflation.
Section 2. Purpose
The purpose and intent of enacting this legislation is to raise Alaska’s minimum wage to $8.75 per hour effective January 1, 2015, $9.75 per hour effective January 1, 2016, and thereafter adjusted annually for inflation.
Section 3. AS 23.10.065(a) is repealed and reenacted to read:
(a) Except as otherwise provided for in law, an employer shall pay to each employee a minimum wage, as established herein, for hours worked in a pay period, whether the work is measured by time, piece, commission or otherwise. An employer may not apply tips or gratuities bestowed upon employees as a credit toward payment of the minimum hourly wage required by this section. Tip credit as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 as amendment does not apply to the minimum wage established by this section. Beginning with the passage of this Act, the minimum wage shall be $8.75 per hour effective January 1, 2015, $9.75 per hour effective January 1, 2016 and thereafter adjusted annually for inflation. The adjustment shall be calculated each September 30, for the proceeding January-December calendar year, by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, using 100 percent of the rate of inflation based on the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers for the Anchorage metropolitan area, compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor; the department shall round the adjusted minimum hourly wage up to the nearest one cent; the adjusted minimum hourly wage shall apply to work performed beginning on January 1 through December 31 of the year for which it is effective.
Section 4. If the minimum wage determined under Section 3 is less than one dollar over the federal minimum wage, the Alaska minimum wage shall be set at one dollar over the federal minimum wage. This amount shall be adjusted in subsequent years by the method established in Section 3.
Minimum wage in Alaska
Alaska was the first state to adopt a minimum wage higher than that at the federal level. Furthermore, it maintained the highest minimum wage rate for more than 30 years after achieving statehood in 1959. The last time the minimum wage rose was in 2009 when the rate was increased from $7.15 to $7.25 per hour, in accordance with the federal minimum wage rate. It was during this time that the Alaska Legislature voted to restore a provision that set Alaska's minimum wage rate at 50 cents above the federal rate. As a result, the minimum wage increased to $7.75 per hour beginning on January 1, 2010.
In 2002, citizens successfully collected enough signatures to place a measure on the ballot in an attempt to increase the state minimum wage. However, the legislature acted first and raised the minimum wage from $5.65 to $7.15, eliminating the need for the measure. Included in the legislation was a provision that called for future increases based on annual cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). However, this provision was repealed in 2003. Had it not been eradicated, Alaska's minimum wage would have been set at $9.53 per hour in 2014.
2014 minimum wages
Below is a chart detailing the minimum wage in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, as of 2014:
|State||2014 minimum wage||State||2014 minimum wage|
2014 ballot measures
Voters in four states - Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota - voted to raise their state's minimum wage at the November 4, 2014, general election. All four were approved. The following table shows what minimum wage rates were implemented in these states.
|State||Measure||2014 wage||2015 Increase||2016 Increase||2017 Increase|
|Alaska||Alaska Ballot Measure 3||$7.75||$8.75||$9.75||N/A|
|Arkansas||Arkansas Issue 5||$6.25||$7.50||$8.00||$8.50|
|Nebraska||Nebraska Initiative 425||$7.25||$8.00||$9.00||N/A|
|South Dakota||South Dakota Initiated Measure 18||$7.25||$8.50||Based on inflation||N/A|
This initiative was sponsored by the group Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage. Supporters, including Ed Flanagan, the group's chair, believed the minimum wage in Alaska had been "too low for too long."
- Sen. Mark Begich (D)
- Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-4)
- Rep. David Guttenberg (D-38)
- Rep. Steve Thompson (R-3)
- Rep. Pete Higgins (R-5)
An Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage advertisement, titled "#AKneedsaraise."
- Daniel S. Sullivan (R), 2014 candidate for US Senate
- Sharron Hunter (D-3)
- Larry Murakami (D)
- Adam Wool (D)
- Joe Blanchard II (R)
- Dave Talerico (R)
- Ed Flanagan, Chair, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage
- Tom Cashen, Co-chair, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage
- Jim Sampson, Co-chair, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage
- Geoff Bacon, Treasurer, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage
As of December 2, 2014, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage had received a total of $159,623 in contributions.
|PAC/ballot measure group||Amount raised||Amount spent|
|Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage||$159,623||$329,666|
Disclaimer: According to campaign finance reports published by the state of Alaska, the group, Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage, spent more than it raised. This was possible because the group was able to accrue debt.
Top 5 contributors:
|Teamsters Local 959||$10,000|
|2014 Putting Alaskans First||$9,269|
|Putting Alaskans First Committee||$9,216|
|2014 Alaska State Employees Association Local 52 PAC||$8,000|
As of July 31, 2014, no formal opposition group had formed. Kyle Hampton, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Alaska Anchorage and director of the UAA Center for Economic Education, debated Ballot Measure 3 with Flanagan, one of the measure's primary sponsors. During the debate, Hampton argued the minimum wage "is mostly an arbitrary figure that doesn’t necessarily lift people out of poverty" and suggested "the wage increases offer a short-term solution to a long-term problem of poverty."
Reports and analyses
- See also: Minimum wage reports and analyses
The following studies are only a small sample of available research on the minimum wage. A broader overview of each study below is available here.
- Congressional Budget Office: In a February 2014 report, the CBO concluded that unemployment would rise, but the poverty rate would fall if the federal minimum wage was raised to $9.00 or $10.10. A $9 minimum wage would reduce employment by 100,000 or 0.06 percent, but 7.6 million workers would see their wages increase. A $10.10 minimum wage would reduce employment by 500,000 or 0.3 percent, but 16.5 million workers would see their wages increase.
Findings in support
An Economic Policy Institute video summarizing some of their research and calling for a higher minimum wage.
- Economic Policy Institute: In Raising America’s Pay: Why It’s Our Central Economic Policy Challenge, EPI economists concluded that despite increasing economic productivity, wages for most workers had stagnated or declined since 1979. They said this had occurred for four reasons: (1) Policies that reduced the bargaining power of workers and boosted the bargaining powers of "capital owners and corporate managers;" (2) The globalizing influence of free trade agreements; (3) “[T]he dramatic drop in top tax rates since the late 1970s;" and (4) the Federal Reserve Board's emphasis on decreasing inflation, rather than decreasing unemployment. The study called for both redistribution and predistribution in attempts to increase wages. By "redistribution," the authors meant "taxes and transfers," and by "predistribution," they meant "policies that impact the wages workers receive in the labor market," such as the minimum wage.
- Institute for Research and Labor Employment: The study looked at minimum wage differences between contiguous counties located in different states. These counties represented good control groups, according to the authors, since there was a difference in base wages between them, but many similar characteristics as well. By looking at counties across a 15 year timespan, the authors concluded, "These estimates suggest no detectable employment losses from the kind of minimum wage increases we have seen in the United States."
Findings in opposition
An Employment Policies Institute video summarizing some of their research and opposing an increased minimum wage.
- Employment Policies Institute: Economist Bradley R. Schiller examined "employment and family income of minimum wage workers between the ages of 33 and 50, in the years between 1998 and 2006 when the federal minimum wage was unchanged at $5.15 an hour." He finds that "concern about the ability of minimum wage employment to provide income support for families is exaggerated. Few adult minimum wage workers have families to support. And those adult minimum wage workers who do have families get substantial income from spousal employment."
- National Bureau of Economic Research: Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research is a review of the literature on minimum wage. David Neumark and William Wascher, the authors, concluded that a "sizable majority" of studies "give a relatively consistent (although not always statistically significant) indication of negative employment effects of minimum wages." Neumark and Wascher expressed a particular concern with disemployment effects on low-skilled workers. They said when research focused on this group, "evidence for disemployment effects seems especially strong."
Media editorial positions
- The Daily News-Miner said,
|“||For the first time in more than a decade, Alaskans will go to the polls in a week to determine, among other things, whether to raise the state’s minimum wage. Ballot Measure 3, which would establish the increase and its terms, has been the least controversial of the three initiatives on the general election ballot this year. There are several reasons that’s the case, but the biggest one is simple. The majority of Alaskans support the measure and should. A hike in the state’s minimum wage isn’t just due, it’s overdue.||”|
- The Juneau Empire said,
|“||Bill Walker and Gov. Sean Parnell agree. So do Sen. Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan.
On Nov. 4, Alaskans should vote yes on Ballot Measure 3 and raise the state’s minimum wage.
A minimum wage increase is not just due, it is overdue.
- The Frontiersman said,
|“||Yes, it would mean businesses — like the Frontiersman — would spend more on labor. But at the same time, it also means our minimum wage employees would have more cash in their pockets to feed their families, pay rent and to spend on “luxury items,” such as an occasional meal out, or a trip to the movies. All that means more money turning over in the Mat-Su Valley. That’s why we support the initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would raise Alaska’s minimum wage to $8.75 per hour on Jan. 1, 2015, to $9.75 on Jan. 1, 2016, and thereafter adjust it for inflation.||”|
Path to the ballot
Supporters were required to collect at least 30,169 valid signatures by January 9, 2014, in order to land the initiative on the 2014 ballot. Supporters submitted approximately 43,500 signatures. Enough signatures were validated to send the measure to the ballot.
All four measures set to appear on the state ballot in 2014 were originally slated to appear on the August 19 primary ballot. However, only one, a veto referendum, was on the primary ballot. The three others, including Ballot Measure 3, were scheduled to appear on the November 4 general election ballot. The 2014 legislative session began on January 21, 2014, and was scheduled to conclude on April 20, 2014. Instead, it ended on April 25, 2014, five days after its scheduled conclusion. Because lawmakers couldn't agree on an education bill, the 2014 session surpassed its deadline. Since legislators failed to end the session on time, the three initiated state statutes were pushed from the August primary ballot to the general one in November, as Alaska law mandates at least 120 days separate the end of the legislative session and Election Day for initiatives. Voter turnout for general elections has historically been greater than that of the primaries. Therefore, more residents might have cast votes on this issue than if the question appeared on the primary ballot.
- Alaska Minimum Wage Increase, Ballot Measure 3 (2014)
- Arkansas Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
- California Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (2014)
- Idaho Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
- Illinois Minimum Wage Increase Question (2014)
- Louisiana State Minimum Wage Amendment (2014)
- Massachusetts Minimum Wage Increase Initiative (2014)
- Michigan Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
- Minnesota Inflation Adjusted Minimum Wage Amendment (2014)
- Missouri Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
- Nebraska Minimum Wage Increase, Initiative 425 (2014)
- New Mexico Minimum Wage Amendment (2014)
- South Dakota Increased Minimum Wage, Initiated Measure 18 (2014)
- Washington Uniform Minimum Wage Measure, Initiative 1358 (2014)
- Washington D.C. Minimum Wage Initiative (2014)
- Alaska 2014 ballot measures
- 2014 ballot measures
- Alaska Initiative Law
- Alaska signature requirements
- SeattlePi.com, "Alaska will vote on raising minimum wage," February 19, 2014
- Homer News, "Minimum wage hike plan gets go-ahead," June 26, 2013
- AviationPros.com, "Labor Group Submits Signatures Backing Statewide Vote To Raise Minimum Wage," January 18, 2014
- Alaska Dispatch News, "Alaska's minimum wage increase to take effect in late February, December 31, 2014
- Alaska Division of Elections, "Ballot language," accessed August 19, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- State of Alaska Division of Elections, "Initiative Petition Bill Language," accessed August 19, 2014
- Alaskans for a Fair Minimum Wage, "Minimum Wage FAQ," accessed August 19, 2014
- Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee do not have a state minimum wage requirement, so the federal wage of $7.25 is applied.
- Arkansas, Georgia and Wyoming all have state minimum wages that are less than the federal minimum wage. When state minimum wage is less than the current federal wage of $7.25, the federal rate supersedes the state wage.
- Alaska Dispatch News, "Backers of vote to increase minimum wage in Alaska submit petition signatures," January 17, 2014
- News Miner, "Interior Alaska legislators offer views on Alaska ballot measures," October 7, 2014
- KQED, "Shifting Stance, Some GOP Candidates Back State Minimum Wage Hikes," September 24, 2014
- State of Alaska, "Campaign Disclosure: Forms," accessed October 25, 2014
- Alaska Dispatch News, "Debate on ballot measure to hike minimum wage gets audience, despite lack of organized opposition," July 31, 2014
- Congressional Budget Office, "The Effects of a Minimum-Wage Increase on Employment and Family Income," February 2014
- Economic Policy Institute, "Raising America’s Pay: Why It’s Our Central Economic Policy Challenge," June 4, 2014
- Institute for Research and Labor Employment, "Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties," November 2010
- Employment Policies Institute, "Just Getting By? Income Dependence on Minimum Wage Jobs," March 2011
- National Bureau of Economic Research, "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research," November 2006
- Daily News-Miner, "Minimum wage hike is overdue: Measure 3 will bring wage back to a more livable level in Alaska," October 29, 2014
- Juneau Empire, "Empire Editorial: Vote yes on 3, no on 4," October 30, 2014
- Frontiersman, "Minimum wage hike necessary," October 28, 2014
- The Alaska State Legislature, "Homepage," accessed April 22, 2014
- ABC 7 News, Denver, "Alaska legal pot vote pushed to fall; would make it third state to legalize recreational marijuana," April 21, 2014
- Liberty Voice, "Alaska Will Vote on the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana in November," July 20, 2014
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