More big bucks behind push to raise Nebraska’s minimum wage


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

While facing a critical Thursday deadline, those looking to raise Nebraska’s minimum wage continue to roll up some big bucks.

Petition to raise NE’s minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $9 in 2016.

Nebraskans for Better Wages has raised $721,000, nearly half of that from Omaha philanthropist Richard Holland who, according to the latest state finance report, has kicked in $350,000.

The Nebraska Appleseed Center has contributed $87,500, the Nebraska State Education Association (the state teachers union) $50,000, as well as $50,000 from Omahan Dianne Lozier.

Petitioners have been working since mid-May to gather some 81,000 certified signatures — or 7 percent of registered voters — by July 3 to put the wage hike to a statewide vote in November. State law requires that at least 5 percent of those signatures come from each of 38 counties.

Other contributors include:

  • Norman Waitt, South Dakota: $30,000
  • Annette Smith, Omaha: $25,000
  • Barbara Weitz, Omaha: $25,000
  • NE AFL-CIO: $20,000
  • Former Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey: $2,500
  • Omaha Firefighters Union: $2,000

The single largest expense cited in the report is for salaries: $118,757 going to “50 States Payroll” which lists a Jackson, Michigan post office box address.

After initially contributing $250,000 to raise the minimum wage, Omahan Richard Holland has kicked in another $100,000: $350,000 in all.

Drive organizers say they have hundreds of paid petitioners across the state — full-time and part-timers earning $10.50-$12.50 an hour.

A lead organizer, Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, tells Nebraska Watchdog the campaign has hit its projections so far and will continue working hard until the deadline.

The Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and conservative Platte Institute oppose a wage hike.

Although a move to up the minimum wage fell short this spring in the Legislature, supporters claim a January poll found 60 percent of Nebraskans favoring an increase.

If voters agree the current $7.25 minimum would jump to $8 by Jan.1, followed by a second bump to $9 on Jan. 1, 2016.

Contact Joe Jordan at

Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday at 7:40 a.m. and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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