BOISE – Seventy percent of Idahoans favor raising the state’s minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current $7.25, according to a new independent poll, though state lawmakers have been unenthusiastic.
Idaho’s minimum wage has been pegged to the federal minimum since lawmakers grudgingly agreed to that change in 2007; it last rose when the federal minimum went up from $6.55 an hour to $7.25 in 2008.
Anne Nesse, head of a group that pushed unsuccessfully for a statewide ballot initiative last year, said the poll results didn’t surprise her. The group found increasing the wage to be highly popular when it conducted its own polls two years ago, but failed to gather enough signatures to make the statewide ballot.
“Even Arkansas passed it; they’re one of the reddest states,” she said.
Now, Nesse is part of a group pushing for a city ballot initiative on raising the minimum wage in Coeur d’Alene, but it’s bogged down in technical and legal issues. A city committee declined to support it on Monday, voting to delay further consideration until after November’s election. “I think that democracy should be a little easier,” Nesse said.
Dan Jones & Associates, a Utah-based polling firm, conducted the new poll of 601 Idaho adults from May 20-28; it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.98 percent. It found that overall, 70 percent of respondents favored raising the minimum to $10 an hour; 29 percent opposed such a move; and 1 percent didn’t know.
Among Republican respondents, 56 percent favored the increase, 43 percent opposed it, and 1 percent didn’t know. Among Democrats, 95 percent were in favor, 3 percent against, and 2 percent undecided. Among those who said they’re independents, 74 percent were in favor and 26 percent against.
In Kootenai County, 71 percent overall were in favor.
Dan Jones, co-owner of the polling firm, which conducted the statewide survey for Idaho Politics Weekly, said the results didn’t surprise him and are consistent with results his firm’s polls have found in Utah.
“Most states want to go to $10 an hour,” Jones said. “It’s a big issue.”
A national CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in late May found that 71 percent of Americans favored raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
In the Idaho poll, respondents were asked, “Currently the minimum wage in Idaho is $7.25 an hour. Do you support or oppose raising the minimum wage in Idaho to $10 an hour?”
Two Democratic Idaho lawmakers introduced legislation this year to raise Idaho’s minimum wage in two steps to $9.25 an hour by July 1, 2016, but the bill never got a committee hearing.
The 2007 law that tied Idaho’s minimum wage to the federal minimum passed as lawmakers rejected rival proposals to exceed the federal minimum. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 29 states including Washington set minimum wages higher than the federal level; Washington’s minimum wage is $9.47 an hour, and is adjusted annually for inflation.
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