Business owners react to petitions to raise state minimum wage

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COLUMBIA - Columbia business owners reacted Wednesday after Secretary of State Jason Kander announced there are three petitions that propose increasing minimum wage in Missouri.

Lauren Bradley is the general manager at Smoothie King. She said most of her 25 employees start at $7.75, 10 cents higher than Missouri's current minimum wage.

"We wanted to be competitive. We want team members to want to work here," she said.

Bradley said an increase in minimum wage might make it harder to find good employees.

"You're going to get different types of people who maybe are not as experienced that believe that they should get paid that amount, when in fact they should not," she said. "I think it would just make it a little harder to distinguish the great from the possibly not-so-great workers."

Addison's and Sophia's owner and manager Adam Dushoff said he doesn't think the increase in minimum wage would really affect business since everyone would be at the same standard.

Bradley said she knows what it's like to work at minimum wage.

"I've been there, I've been at the minimum wage. I went from working for $10 an hour to having to go work for $7.25 an hour, so it's not fun," she said. "And I guess the less you're paid, the harder you're going to work."

Kander said three petitions to raise Missouri's minimum wage have been approved for circulation and can start getting signatures.

Kander said the petitions need to be signed by at least 5 percent of legal voters in six of the state's eight congressional districts to make in onto a ballot.

All petitions propose to increase the current $7.65 an hour minimum wage to $9. One petition would increase the wage by $1 a year until it reaches $15, another until it reaches $11, and the last until it reaches $12.