JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missourians gave low-income workers a raise Tuesday, overwhelming passing a ballot measure to boost the state's minimum wage.
The minimum wage increase was supported by nearly three-quarters of the voters, with about two-thirds of statewide precincts reporting results.
"The voters have spoken overwhelmingly in support of raising the minimum wage," said Sara Howard, a spokeswoman for the measure's sponsoring group, Give Missourians a Raise. "It sends a clear message to Washington, D.C, and Jefferson City that we need to honor our hardworking people a decent wage."
Proposition B will increase Missouri's minimum wage from the current federal base of $5.15 an hour to $6.50 an hour effective Jan. 1, with an automatic increase each year to keep pace with inflation.
The call for Proposition B in Missouri was based on a number of factors, including voter turnout, previous voting patterns, and a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.
Support for the minimum wage increase was widespread. It appeared to be passing in every county, though not all of them had reported results.
The minimum wage initiative was overwhelmingly favored by all age groups and people of all income levels, according to an exit poll of 2,381 Missouri voters. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Three-quarters of Missourians ages 18-64 favored the measure, while seven in 10 voters 65 and over also favored it.
Four-fifths of voters earning less than $50,000 supported raising the minimum wage, and nearly three-quarters of those earning $50,000 and more voted for it.
A high-profile amendment to guarantee that all federally allowed stem cell research can occur in Missouri, including on human embryos, had slightly less than the needed majority of votes, with about two-thirds of statewide precincts reporting results.
Another constitutional amendment would raise the state cigarette tax from the current 17 cents to 97 cents a pack while increasing taxes on other tobacco products to 30 percent of the manufacturer's invoice price instead of the present 10 percent. That measure is projected to generate at least $351 million annually, which would go toward health care and anti-tobacco programs.
The tobacco tax increase was opposed by about 54 percent of voters, with about two-thirds of the statewide precincts reporting results.
Two lower-profile amendments enjoyed support.
Voters passed an amendment making it easier to raise the salaries of judges, legislators and other elected state officials. That amendment mentioned a state salary commission only at the end of its ballot language, instead emphasizing another portion of the proposal that would prohibit officials convicted of a felony while in office, impeached or removed for misconduct from receiving their state pensions.
The pension-and-pay-raise amendment had about 85 percent support, with about two-thirds of the statewide precincts reporting.
An amendment to ensure veterans' groups don't have to pay property taxes on their buildings was favored by more than 60 percent of voters, with about two-thirds of the statewide precincts reporting.