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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow RAISE MINIMUM WAGE: YES ON 25

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RAISE MINIMUM WAGE: YES ON 25

Anyone who works deserves a decent entry-level wage. People in Oregon who work at the minimum wage level have been stuck at the same rate for nearly four years. It's time to boost Oregon's minimum wage.

MEASURE 25 on the Nov. 5 ballot would do just that by increasing the minimum wage by 40 cents to $6.90 an hour and provide for annual increases based on the consumer price index. The measure would make Oregon the first state to provide for annual boosts tied to inflation for those who are on the bottom end of the pay scale.

Who are those people who would be affected by the change?

YOU MIGHT assume it would be teenagers just starting out in the job market. But the fact is, a lot more than teenagers are working for minimum wage. Sixty percent of those who work for minimum wage are women, 25 percent are single parents, and 73 percent are age 20 and older. It's not just kids living at home who work for minimum wage.

The current minimum wage amounts to $1,040 a month, or less than $13,500 a year. The increase would boost annual earnings to a still-modest $14,352. It's important that the state keep the minimum wage above what people could get on welfare.

Contrary to opponents' claims, the increase isn't going to undermine Oregon's economy and it won't put small businesses out of business. If a business has gone four years without giving their minimum wage earners a boost, it's time to do some catching up.

Oregon has given itself the reputation for having the highest percentage of people living in poverty than any other state in the nation. Increasing the minimum wage is a small step in trying to shake that reputation. Oregon's Legislature hasn't seen fit to respond to the need. Oregonians will have to do it themselves. And let's face it. Oregon's working poor need a raise. A single mother working for $6.50 an hour isn't going to be able to survive without some form of assistance — food stamps, food banks, the Oregon Health Plan.

Measure 25 won't fix the problem, but it will provide some relief. Please vote yes.

YES ON MEASURE 26

The "Oregon Way'' is all about citizens having a way to get issues addressed that the Legislature fails to take up. Oregon developed the initiative process to do just that. Citizens devoted to a cause could gather signatures to put issues on the ballot. No one ever imagined the process would evolve into a profession.

Paying people to gather signatures to put issues on the ballot corrupts the initiative process. It takes causes out of the hands of citizens and puts it in the hands of lobbies that can afford to pay signature gatherers. That's not what the initiative process was meant to be. Measure 26 would prohibit paid signature gatherers.

Oregonians should return the initiative process to what it was intended to be — a citizen-led effort. Vote yes for Measure 26.

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