MISSOURI (KFVS) - More than 120,000 Missourians from every county have signed a petition to gradually raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023.
A group called "Raise up Missouri" is leading the effort to get the issue on November's ballot, but local employees and business owners have mixed reactions about the idea.
SEMO Student Devin Cox works at a multimedia center inside the University library creating graphics but gets paid less than $8 dollars an hour.
Cox said it's outstanding to see the grassroots effort gather enough signatures and thinks the pay bump would encourage consumers to spend more at stores.
"I know a lot of people, they're really stressed because they don't make enough money and living expenses are not cheap," Cox said. "I think an increase in pay would allow you to do stuff for yourself like go to the movies so I feel like it's going to cause happiness."
Cox thinks raising the minimum wage would help students like him pay rent and tuition, as well as parents who work multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
"A lot of single mothers who have to work two or three jobs don't really get to see their kids because they're trying to make sure the bills are paid and food is on the table," Cox said. "This could be something where they're able to spend more time with their family."
Jocelyn Anderson owns Bloom Studio & Gifts and has three part-time employees. She appreciates that the plan to raise Missouri's minimum wage would be a gradual one, increasing 85 cents per year, but worries it could hurt her finances and make it difficult to pay her employees.
"It's definitely going to sting when you're not used to having that kind of change," Anderson said. "If this were to go through I'd have to look at the hours I'd give my employees now and do I have to cut back those hours, and if that doesn't happen where do those cutbacks happen at other places in the store. Whether it's with the inventory or maintenance."
If the proposal makes it to the ballot....
Missouri's Secretary of State's office will be verifying the signatures over the next few months before it's officially on the November ballot.
Anderson said she doesn't know how she'll vote yet and will have to seriously crunch the numbers to know how it would affect her business.
Cox plans to vote yes and hopes others do the same.
"Even if you are making a whole bunch of money," he said. "You never know what people are going through. So this could be like a change in someone's life if you vote yes."