Protect Florida businesses; vote no on Amendment 2 | Opinion

By Carol Dover

Special to the Sun Sentinel

There’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Florida this November that — if passed — would be catastrophic to Florida’s economy. Amendment 2 would kill jobs, force more small businesses to close and destroy our state. With all we’ve suffered this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot afford Amendment 2.

Amendment 2 would raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. That’s a 75% increase in payroll for businesses in the service industry. This drastic increase will force our industry to cut jobs, cut hours and cut benefits. The very workers this misleading amendment is intended to help would be left without jobs and without the means to pay their bills and provide for their families.

At the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, we are proud to represent more than 10,000 members of the hospitality and tourism industry. This industry generates more than $112 billion in annual economic impact. We also support more than 1.5 million jobs for Florida’s families here in the Sunshine State.

But during COVID-19, this iconic Florida industry has suffered greatly. Many businesses were forced to close, and more than 934,000 people were furloughed or laid off as a result. Our state unemployment rate is again in the double digits.

Amendment 2 would be a lethal blow to our struggling businesses.

And what will Florida’s hospitality industry look like with a $15 minimum wage? Just like we’ve seen in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Seattle, the smiling faces that traditionally greet customers in establishments all across the Sunshine State will be replaced by iPads and kiosks to take your order. What kind of hospitality is that?

Not only will technology replace the friendly faces we’re known for, but prices for goods and services across Florida will increase. That’s the only way business owners can cover the exponentially increasing costs of labor to make ends meet. In this current economic downturn, we literally cannot afford Amendment 2.

We’ve already seen this scheme fail in other parts of the country. When the mandatory minimum wage was jacked up to $15 or more, the charming businesses that defined those regions closed their doors and laid off workers. Their communities and local economies are skeletons of their former selves. Why would we apply those failed policies here in Florida?

Businesses across Florida are fighting Amendment 2. Workers from the Panhandle to the Keys are fighting to save their jobs. But time is running out.

The election is just weeks away. The consequences will last a lifetime. Help us save jobs. Help us save businesses. Floridians, vote no on Amendment 2.

Carol Dover is the President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.