Gov. Dave Heineman says that while there are pros and cons to increasing the state minimum wage, he would vote against the November ballot proposal to raise it.
Heineman says he prefers how the state has historically addressed the issue.
“In the past, Nebraska has followed the lead of the federal government regarding the minimum wage,” Heineman tells reporters during a conference call. “When the federal government has increased the minimum wage, Nebraska’s business and labor communities have worked together to increase the minimum wage in Nebraska. We’ve avoided the divisiveness of that issue and that’s a better way to go.”
Supporters of an increase have succeeded in gathering enough signatures to place the issue on the November ballot. It asks Nebraska voters to increase the state minimum wage from the present $7.25 an hour to $8 an hour next year, then to $9 an hour in 2016.
Heineman, though, says he would prefer the state minimum wage be set by the legislature after consulting with labor and management.
“There are pros and cons to this issue. It’s difficult to live on a minimum wage salary, but small businesses are concerned that it will result in job losses,” according to Heineman. “I believe the key is increased training opportunities to help employees increase their skills, resulting in better job opportunities and higher pay, and to recruit higher-paying industries to this state.”
Heineman says while there are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue, he would vote against the November ballot issue.
“While I’ll continue to study this issue, if I had to vote today, I’d vote against the minimum wage ballot issue.”
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman discusses minimum wage issue with reporters. [:55]