Arizona State Senate made correct decision with unconstitutional bill

Mia Brito, staff writer

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Minimum wage in the state of Arizona was recently disputed for workers under the age of 22. The Arizona House of Representatives passed bill HB 2523 which would of allowed employers to pay full-time students the national minimum wage of $7.25, and not the state minimum wage of $11. However, the Arizona State Senate added a super majority vote requirement, which will essentially kill the proposal. If not for the senate adding the super majority to the bill, it very well may of passed. This would have been detrimental to thousands of students, youth living on their own, and those under 22 trying to support their families.

Employees under 22 are not just full time college students, there are people who have families, people who live in single parent homes and are trying to help pay bills, or college students who need to pay their own way though school. The Arizona Students’ Association has claimed that if this bill passed it would have forced a good amount of students to drop out due to the high cost of bills, tuition, fees, and food costs.

Previously agreed upon by voters in 2016, Proposition 206, the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act, had raised the minimum wage from $8 an hour to the current minimum wage of $11 an hour. With bill HB 2523 students will not be paid less than the acceptable minimum wage decided upon by voters in late 2016.

Arizona Representative Travis Grantham was the one who proposed the bill on February 4. Grantham claimed that the purpose of the bill was to help smaller businesses get workers, and help young workers or students find a job, within these smaller businesses so they can get more experience. However, Grantham’s voting history does not support him when it comes to assisting students. In his most recent political courage test from Vote Smart, Grantham was asked to explain his support for spending within general categories. When it came to education, he said he would eliminate that category of federal spending out of categories like defense, space exploration, and agriculture.

Grantham has never been an ally of Arizona students, but when asked if he supports campaign finance laws that would regulate indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions, he answered no. This is very hypocritical of the Representative who introduced a bill to “help small businesses,” when he would not deny larger businesses putting money indirectly behind politicians in major elections. Other Republican groups have showed their support for the bill as well.

“It’s still very good policy and we know that these laws hurt … students the most,” said Joe Riches, the Director of National Litigation and General Counsel for the Goldwater Institute.

Riches acknowledged that it would hurt students, but still wants to go forward with this bill. The legislation is filled with hypocrisy and claims that have not been proven to work. There needs to be a better way to benefit both students and smaller businesses. Democrat Representative Reginald Bolding stated that lowering wages for full-time students could be a problem when it comes to passing this bill, as it makes it seem like going to school could further negatively impact students income. Instead, Bolding thinks Arizona should be promoting education, not making it feel like a punishment.

While the idea of creating more opportunities for students to be able to be hired and to gain work experience seems good, there are better ways to promote training, better recruitment and retention for smaller businesses and students. Larger corporations like Target and Bashas are already moving their minimum wages for employees to $12 and $13 an hour. Giving smaller businesses the option to pay their workers the national average of $7.25 will seriously hurt smaller businesses if they choose to pay their workers that little. In regards to competition offering workers five or six dollars more will oust smaller businesses out of the game before they even have a chance to offer students a lessened paycheck.

Ultimately hurting small businesses in the end, there needs to be different incentives to help smaller businesses. If there was a law passed that had to do with education reimbursement and smaller businesses, this could directly coincide with what Republicans in the House were trying to do. This way these businesses still pay their workers $11 an hour, but the education reimbursement provided by the government makes them seem more attractive to students as a job option.