Speaking on a panel discussing the minimum wage at the Florida Democratic Convention in Lake Buena Vista on Saturday morning, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman dismissed critics of doing such a thing by calling the arguments “crap.”
Kriseman, who boasted about the variety of measures that have aided lower-income people and St. Pete employees after being approved by the St. Petersburg City Council, said that leaders like himself need to be ready to deal with the “talking points” offered by critics, and to the general public as well.
“These talking points are crap,” the mayor said succinctly. “When we are paying our employees more, we get two benefits from that. Number one, they’re going to be more likely to stay with us, which means we’re not having to retrain new employees, and that saves us money. We’re not having to spend money recruiting new employees, so that saves us money.”
Kriseman also refuted the notion that raising that business will have to charge more to pay a higher minimum wage for their employees in the private sector. “Again, that’s crap. Because what that means is that there’s more money coming into the economy. Because when people are paid more money, they more money to spend…so the spending dollars increase.”
The City of St. Pete raised the minimum wage for about 70 city workers to $12.50 an hour last December. It also provided for two percent annual increases for hourly employees who have reached the maximum salary in their positions.
Kriseman added that the city has made a commitment to raise that minimum wage to “15 by 20,” meaning raising the minimum wage in St. Pete to $15 an hour by 2020.
Earlier in the discussion, the mayor listed off other items to fight income inequality that have occurred under his tenure, like a Wage Theft ordinance, six weeks of paid parental leave for women and men, and “Banning the Box,” otherwise known as eliminating the box on job applications for the city that asks applicants if they have a criminal record.
The mayor also touted the “2nd Chance” program, which in partnership with the SPPD offers juvenile 9-17 who commit minor offenses to keep their criminal records clean through service in the community.