Lawmakers accept minimum wage challenge

Several Florida lawmakers are going to go a week living on minimum wage to try to get support to raise minimum wage from about $8 to $15.


Rep. Dwight Dudley, from Pinellas County, joined a couple dozen minimum wage workers in St. Petersburg Monday to agree to take the "Fight for 15" challenge, and go five days on just $17 a day.


"Why are we not doing more for the working people, the people that live and play by the rules every day and can't get ahead?" Dudley asked. "We need to help the working people. We need to create more opportunities."


During the challenge, lawmakers have to use budget of $85 for the week to cover all of expenses, excluding housing, car payments, credit card bills & childcare expenses.


So far, at least 18 elected officials have said they would participate.


"I appreciate them stepping up and to me that shows that they are actually listening to us," said Demetra Atkins, a child care provider who took part in a news conference in Monday. "It's a challenge for them; it's a struggle for us. We live this day in and day out, month to month and if they are truly serious about this challenge, I am asking them to go more than a week."


Some minimum wage workers agree with Atkins and wonder whether this is all for show or whether it will have an impact.


"I would like to see them do what we do every day: get on a bus, ride three hours for work, stay there, make not even nine dollars an hour," said Allison Macho of Tampa. "Good luck trying to get them to raise it. I hope they do raise minimum wage, but they're not going to deal with it. They're not going to be able to survive on it."


Opponents have said nearly double minimum wage will damage the economy and burden small businesses.