LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – With the fall campaign approaching, Democrats and local community members are hoping to build income inequality into an issue.
"It's time we increase the minimum wage so folks who are working hard can make ends meet," Steve Copely stated in a phone interview Sunday.
Copely is the chairman for the group Give Arkansas a Raise Now. At $13,000 dollars a year, the state's current wage of $6.25 doesn't offer the most breathing room, but the group is trying to change that by petitioning to raise the rate by $2.25 by the year 2017.
"If you pay $100 a week for groceries there's $5,200 a year," continued Copely. "If you pay $350 a month for housing there's another $4,000 and all you've done is pay your groceries and provide your housing."
The group has been petitioning to get voters to put the wage hike on the November ballot, as Arkansas is one of only four states with a minimum wage lower than the federal minimum wage.
Some business owners say they're worried because a higher minimum wage means a higher payroll, but others say that's not such a bad thing when you think about the economic benefits.
"[Employees would] also have more spending power, which is going to come back to those businesses," said Stephanos Mylonas, owner of Mylo's Coffee on Kavanaugh Boulevard.
Mylonas pays each of his workers more than minimum wage and believes it's a worthwhile investment that pays back.
"If somebody's working at their full capacity and giving [their boss] what you ask [of] them, then you, as a business owner, should find a way to reward them correctly," he continued.
Petitioners need 15,000 more signatures by August 18 to get the measure on the ballot come fall.