COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohioans begin preparations for November’s election, they have several ballot initiatives to review. One constitutional citizen-led amendment called "Raise The Wage Ohio" could increase the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The group believes people struggling with inflation will benefit. 

What You Need To Know

  • The goal of the ballot initiative is to slowly increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour 

  • Right now, the minimum wage for non-tipped workers is $10.45 per hour, while for tipped workers, it is $5.25 per hour

  • The ballot language calls for minimum wage increases to depend on inflation after the 2026 increase

  • Similar measures are already in place other places such as California, and Washington, D.C.

Ohio's minimum wage for non-tipped workers is currently $10.45 per hour. For tipped workers, the minimum wage is $5.25 per hour in 2024. These amounts apply to businesses that gross at least $385,000 per year. Raise The Wage Ohio aims to boost the non-tipped minimum wage to $15 per hour by Jan. 1, 2026. After that date, the wage increase would depend on inflation. 

"1.4 million Ohioans will get an instant raise," said Mariah Ross, the executive director of One Fair Wage. "And, everyone else will eventually get a bump, because when you raise up the bottom, every other level also gets a raise."

Ross is leading the statewide effort to increase Ohio’s minimum wage and believes this initiative could help people struggling in today's economy. Ross grew up around people who lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and understands the amount of hard work that goes into a job. She said most people have to budget and struggle to pay rent and buy groceries This cycle of labor and finances leads to constant debt, she said.

In 2006, Ohio passed a constitutional amendment increasing the minimum wage depending on inflation each year. The Buckeye state’s minimum wage in 2024 increased by 35 cents per hour. Tipped workers received a 20-cent boost per hour. 

The ballot initiative also would repeal the ability of employers to pay a sub-minimum wage for workers with disabilities. This amount is usually determined through a Special Wage Certificate. The ballot initiative would also affect workers younger than 16, who under the current law, have a minimum wage of $7.25.

The proposal also calls for employers to gradually increase the minimum wage for tipped workers. 

John Barker, president and CEO of the Ohio Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance, said this ballot initiative could negatively affect the amount of tips employees receive. He said a similar measure passed in Washington D.C. California also has a very similar law. 

"So, as a consumer, you go in and you see now, you know, whatever the cost is of the meal and then you see a service charge," Barker said. "It can be anywhere between, 20 to 25 percent. And, you know, you go down your bill, you see that. And what happens is consumers then don't give a tip. And so it totally changes the entire equation for a server or a bartender." 

Barker said restaurants are already navigating through inflation, and raising the minimum wage will have a drastic affect on Ohio's restaurant industry. 

"Wages get pushed up," Barker stated. "Then prices are going to go up." 

Individuals on both sides of the ballot initiative are looking to get Ohioans on their side. The group supporting increasing the state's minimum wage needs to collect more than 400,000 vaild signatures by July in order for this initiative to make it onto November's ballot.