Republicans vote to repeal state's minimum wage

2012-03-06T05:00:00Z Republicans vote to repeal state's minimum wageHOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Sun

PHOENIX -- Using the soft economy as a lever, House Republicans voted Monday to ask voters to repeal the state's minimum wage.

House Majority Leader Steve Court acknowledged that the original measure was approved six years ago on a nearly 2-1 margin. That law requires the Industrial Commission to consider inflation and make annual adjustments in the minimum that companies doing business here can pay their workers.

The result is a current minimum wage of $7.65 an hour, 40 cents more than required under federal law.

Court said, though, the economy in 2006 was quite different than it is now. And he said that employers cannot afford the extra costs.

But Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, said the depressed economy is precisely the reason having a state minimum wage higher than what is required under federal law -- and one that keeps pace with inflation.

"Right now there are so many people working minimum wage jobs that normally would not be working minimum wage jobs," he said. In fact, Gallego argued, many people have to work two minimum wage jobs just to make what they used to earn, before the economy tanked and companies laid off workers.

He said the inflation indexing is necessary "just to allow them to catch up with the rising cost of everyday rising food and fuel."

There is no indexing of the federal minimum wage, with changes possible only with congressional approval. And the U.S. Department of Labor said the last time that happened was in 2009.

Court acknowledged the intent of voters in 2006 was to ensure that those at the bottom of the pay scale do not fall farther behind due to inflation.

"I think in normal times that might not be so bad," the Mesa Republican said. "But in a down economy like we have, we've continued to ratchet up our minimum wage while the federal government has kept theirs flat."

The result, he said, is Arizona employers have to pay their minimum wage workers 5 percent more than companies in surrounding states.

"It's a competitive issue with other states," Court said.

He acknowledged that a large number of these workers are probably in food service and hospitality jobs which cannot be exported elsewhere.

"But still, they're having to give raises to employees at a time when their business is down and hurting them," Court continued. "So we just wanted to have the voters look at it again."

Rebecca Friend, executive director of the state AFL-CIO, which championed the initiative, said businesses made the same arguments in 2006 with claims that it will unduly harm Arizona businesses. She said that, six years later, no one has been able to present concrete evidence that Arizona having its own minimum wage has hurt the economy.

"Wall Street crushed the economy, not the minimum wage," she said.

Friend said if the issue reaches the ballot in November -- the measure still needs Senate approval -- supporters will once again remind voters that, even with indexing, what Arizona requires is not exactly making anyone rich.

"The minimum wage is not a living wage," she said, saying the indexing is "the one thing that makes some attempt to deal with the issue of inflation or changes in the economic situation."

As approved, HCR2056 would set the state minimum wage permanently at $7.65 an hour -- where it is now -- or the federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. With no indexing, that would mean the state minimum wage would become the federal minimum wage whenever Congress got around to approving an increase to that level or higher.

That effectively would return the law to the way it was before the 2006 initiative when federal law allowed workers to be paid as little as $5.15 an hour. The initiative boosted that immediately to $6.75, with a requirement for annual inflation adjustments.

The most recent adjustment, which took effect in January, added 30 cents an hour to the wage after the Industrial Commission, charged with monitoring the wage, pegged inflation at 3.8 percent. While that translated out to 27.9 cents, the law requires the number to be rounded to the nearest nickel.

The commission does not track how many Arizonans are working at the minimum wage.

The law does allow a employers to claim a $3 an hour "tip credit," meaning they will be able to put just $4.65 an hour into paychecks. But that requires proof that the employees are, in fact, bringing in at least $3 an hour in tips.


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(25) Comments

  1. Springfield Armory
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    Springfield Armory - March 19, 2012 3:33 pm
    Ferret, when an employee is paid minimum wage regardless of their performance they will tend to provide the minimum performance required to keep the job. Forgive me for not taking your business "tip", as it is extremely counterproductive.
  2. in2ideas
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    in2ideas - March 19, 2012 9:36 am
    pygmy - It is pretty clear to me that you have never owned or operated a business. Trust me, I already pay my best performers as well as I can, but I could pay them even more if not for the artificially inflated minimum wage. Smart business people know that you get your investment back manyfold when you pay your best as much as possible, however, there are limits to how much you can pay based on profit margin. Paying my worst performers too much reduces the opportunity to pay my best more.
  3. longtimer
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    longtimer - March 14, 2012 12:37 pm
    From- Maybe my point is that it is the Republican Party that is so blinded by ideology that it assumes only the rich in our nation count, and that everyone else is expendable.
    Look- it is very obvious that if it were up to those with "r" next to their names that workers would have no rights, no protections and be working for south-of-the-border salaries. If you like that-wonderful. All for the rich! For those of us living and working here, we like the here and now much better than 1890.
  4. GeorgeW724
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    GeorgeW724 - March 14, 2012 10:54 am
    No one here is saying that the min wage law gives people enough money to live on but it may deprive someone with little skills/experience a chance to get a job.
    At what point would a min wage law start to hurt job creation?
    The middle class was created by whole range things such as lack of compitions from other countries.
  5. Bigfoot
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    Bigfoot - March 13, 2012 11:37 am
    Anything the AZ legislature can do to give the 1% a little bigger piece of the pie...
  6. American Way
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    American Way - March 13, 2012 11:10 am
    I assume that all of those oppossed to lowering the minimum wage are also oppossed to illegal immigration since illegal immigration drives downs wages and undercuts the American worker.
  7. pygmylowe
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    pygmylowe - March 13, 2012 10:44 am
    Like it or not, this is the reason we have unions. Some employers would work a man to death in unsafe and harsh conditions for next to nothing all for the sake of profit. When a man has a hungry child to feed, I would expect a good man to take any job(regardless of pay or conditions) to try and meet that responsibility. Some would like to exploit this good man and his efforts to do the right thing. Unions created the middle class not trickle down voodoo economics.
  8. flagwagger
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    flagwagger - March 13, 2012 7:02 am
    Not hard to see who the slave owners would be in this discussion! I suggest some of you who believe the minimum wage is too much should do some research. A full-time minimum wage employee in Flagstaff takes home just enough to pay rent on an average one bedroom apartment. Just rent, nothing left over for food, utilities, transportation, education, etc... How exactly are people in this position supposed to improve their situation?
  9. Ferret
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    Ferret - March 12, 2012 9:18 pm
    Springfield -
    Average incomes will go up? Talk about voodoo economics. If the market doesn't currently feel the need to pay workers more, why on earth would they? Springfield, I'll fill you in on a little tip about running a business, the goal is to pay workers as little possible while getting the largest return out of them possible. If there is actual competition for qualified workers, I will have to pay them more than the minimum, the fact that the minium exists doesn't change that fact.
  10. Springfield Armory
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    Springfield Armory - March 12, 2012 8:50 am
    pygmylowe said: "What job has a skill set that you believe to be worth less than minimum wage?"

    Any job that people will apply for and do for less?

  11. GeorgeW724
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    GeorgeW724 - March 09, 2012 7:08 pm
    It's not that a job skill is worth less then min wage but that a job requires only a max skill level. What is a job is worth is depended on how many positions there are vs how many people want that job.
  12. pygmylowe
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    pygmylowe - March 09, 2012 1:22 pm
    What job has a skill set that you believe to be worth less than minimum wage?
  13. Springfield Armory
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    Springfield Armory - March 09, 2012 12:43 pm
    All a minimum wage does is give companies an excuse for paying low wages. If you get rid of the minimum wage entirely and let the market determine wages the average incomes will go up and businesses will be competing for qualified employees.
  14. GeorgeW724
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    GeorgeW724 - March 08, 2012 5:42 pm
    Oil changes only requirement a certain level of skills. Having a high level mech tech to it would be a waste of skills, also you would you pay the amount that person worth to change your oil.
  15. pygmylowe
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    pygmylowe - March 08, 2012 10:32 am
    in2ideas-"If I could pay less experienced, less reliable staffers less, I could pay my best performers more" Key word being COULD. You COULD pay them more, but you wouldn't. This is a Right To Work state. Maybe if you paid better, you would have a better work force to choose from. Your my best worker and I would love to give you a raise but I can't because I have to pay Lazy John the artificially inflated minimum wage. Sounds about Right.
  16. Fromthemiddle
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    Fromthemiddle - March 07, 2012 2:10 pm
    George and Nobody are correct. The lack of basic understanding to the basic economic principles is missing from some of these comments. Longitmer says "
    Why does this seem so familiar? Our Arizona Goppers misrepresent the facts on minimum wage, and then hurt the lowest paid workers in the state" If just once longtimer could criticize those with a d next to their name your comments would hold more credible. Blinded by an ideology for the sake of a rant serves no one.

  17. GeorgeW724
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    GeorgeW724 - March 06, 2012 7:58 pm
    Minimum does not hurt the economy but it does hurt workers who labors are not worth minimum wage. Such as those without experence. If you think it's hard to live on minimum wage, how harder is it on $0.
    I'm sure which side to surport but I do need better agruments that have been given on both sides.
  18. Nobody
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    Nobody - March 06, 2012 6:24 pm
    Sorry, but only a FOOL without any understanding of basic economics believes minimum wages are a good idea! The costs of wages are PASSED ON TO THE CONSUMERS!! So how does that help anyone? Let's make the minimum wage 50.00 per hour, then Big Mac's will cost 45.00 each, Beer will be 80.00 a six pack, and Hostess Ding Dongs will cost 47.50, are you getting my point? Don't like YOUR wage?? Get a different job!
  19. longtimer
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    longtimer - March 06, 2012 12:43 pm
    Why does this seem so familiar? Our Arizona Goppers misrepresent the facts on minimun wage, and then hurt the lowest paid workers in the state.
    What gives? Why this hatred for the working poor? This will only cost the state more in food stamps and related costs. People can't live on 5$ a day- not that the GOP knows that....
  20. scout2468
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    scout2468 - March 06, 2012 12:36 pm
    Socialism? It is interesting that if the government attempts to help the common worker,it is termed Socialism although business owners have absolutely no issue with the government giving them special tax breaks and incentives.
  21. NCL_WageTheft
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    NCL_WageTheft - March 06, 2012 9:38 am
    Mr. Steve Court, AZ's House Majority Leader, misrepresented the minimum wage facts when he said 'Arizona employers have to pay their minimum wage workers 5 percent more than companies in surrounding states.' Out of the 5 surrounding states (CA, NV, UT, CO, NM) 2 states have significantly higher minimum wages (CA is $8, NV is $8.25) CO is 1 cent lower at $7.64, NM is 15 cents lower at $7.50, while UT is the only surrounding state at the fed minimum wage - $7.25 & 5% higher than AZ's minimum wage.
  22. in2ideas
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    in2ideas - March 06, 2012 9:34 am
    The dang government needs to get out of our business..literally. Why does the government have any say in how much I offer to pay someone and how much they agree to work for? Everyone that works for me makes more than minimum as soon as they prove themselves reliable, honest, and hard working. All the artifically inflated minimum wages do is cause me to cut jobs and keep hours to a minimum. If I could pay less experienced, less reliable staffers less, I could pay my best performers more.Socialism
  23. scout2468
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    scout2468 - March 06, 2012 8:06 am
    It is hard to understand why the GOP is so anti-worker. They want to reduce what is already not enough to live on. There was a time in this country when both spouses didn't have to work if they chose to stay at home with the kids. Those days are gone due to wages not increasing, and often going down. The GOP vilifies any worker that has a decent wage, good benefits, and a decent pension. Why is this? Why is wrong for the common worker to do well. Why is the GOP so against the common worker?
  24. scout2468
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    scout2468 - March 06, 2012 8:03 am
    Unbelievable. This is just another example of how out of touch the GOP is. They want to reduce what is already not enough to live on. It is hard to understand why they are so anti-worker. They vilify any worker that has good benefits, a decent pension, and makes a living wage. There was a time in this country when both spouses didn't have to work and could stay at home with the kids if they chose to. Those days are gone. I don't understand why the GOP feels that workers have absolutey no rights.
  25. Rim2Rim
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    Rim2Rim - March 06, 2012 6:55 am
    Curious as to the reference that our minimum wage is higher than surrounding states? California wage? Oregon? Washington? All higher, stricter overtime regulations and I know at least in Washington there is no tip credit so even servers and bartenders push an hourly wage of $10 plus tips. How many voters feel that they are recieving a fair wage and the push is to lower? I thought we only penalized our educators with terrible wages.
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