Forget worrying for now about whether the Democrats are going too far to the left in advancing their agenda.
At least the people in this country, even in the Red States, largely support progressive goals like universal health care, cleaning the environment, and making sure everyone has a living wage.
What people should worry about right now are the people calling themselves Republicans and the reactionary-corporatist agenda they are pursuing.
Attacking the minimum wage for people under 22 in the Arizona State Legislature (HB2523) is one example.
Who is openly supporting the extreme right and reactionary Republican wish to create a caste system in Arizona where people age 22 and under earn the federal minimum wage and the rest earn the state-approved minimum wage instead of the $11.00 an hour guaranteed by the voter-passed Proposition 206?
Not the great majority of Arizonans.
Showing their greed
At the request to speak at the hearing before the committee considering this proposal, Legislative District 9 Representative Pamela Powers Hanley noted that “Hundreds of people signed in as NO (meaning against the proposal). The Chamber (of Commerce) and other usual suspects are YES.”
Are the public servants entrusted with serving the people’s interests going to proceed with moving a bill that hurts a large section of the populace while lining the profit margins of dark money corporate interests, who, as Representative Hanley explains “are showing their greed?”
Never mind that this proposal, as Representatives like Ms. Hannley and LD 18 Rep. Jennifer Jermaine have stated, is unconstitutional.
Never mind that there is no way the reactionary Republicans will get 75 percent of either the House or Senate to support it.
What matters is this is proposal is morally, politically, and economically wrong.
Representative Hanley commented that:
“This bill ignores the fact that many people under 22 are raising families, and $7.25 per hour is nowhere near a living wage for an individual, let alone a family. This Republican proposal hurts families and workers all the way up and down the wage scale. There are a lot of older workers on Social Security who go back and take low-level jobs just for some extra money. If the younger workers are paid $7.25 an hour for the same job, they won’t hire the old folks anymore at $11 an hour. Older workers also might be a little bit more ornery and less docile than someone in their first job. Older workers have been in the workforce, and they know what the labor laws are. This bill also said employers could “negotiate terms” with them. In the house, I proposed a Prop 105 amendment which would have required a three-quarter‘s vote to pass this. They are trying to undermine the will of the people and change Prop 206, the minimum wage Citizens Initiative. What the Republicans are trying to do — with the guidance of The Goldwater Institute — is unconstitutional.”
Representative Jermaine, In explaining her vote against the proposal, pointed out that while the measure is:
“Blatantly unconstitutional and (promotes) age discrimination, it will, rightfully so, result in lawsuits against the State.”
Former House Minority Leader David Lujan of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress relayed that:
“HB2523, the youth minimum wage bill is bad economic policy. It will serve as a barrier to increasing post-secondary attainment in Arizona because it will impose a debilitating pay cut upon thousands of Arizona full-time students who depend on the income from their part-time jobs to help pay tuition, housing and to help pay basic needs for them and sometimes other family members. In the long run, it will make it more difficult for Arizona to create a more skilled workforce.”
As Hannley, Jermaine, and Lujan have stated, this bill fails our citizens because it hurts families, hinders our economic development, discriminates, and is unconstitutional.
For proponents of this bill, that say that greater job opportunities will materialize for young people when employers can offer them a lower wage, “urban legends” like this regarding the minimum wage have been repeatedly debunked.
HB2523 is another sign of how far right the Republican Party has gone that this proposal was not laughed at when first proposed instead of being assigned to a committee for consideration.
It is frightening that this bill, like the proposals that would take away voter access and rights, has made it this far in this legislative session.
Republicans and Democrats in the state Legislature should be considering bills that improve the lives of the citizens of the state, not sacrificing them to the altar of corporate profits. Instead of creating a caste system of generational wage earners where our young citizens get shortchanged so the Chamber of Commerce members can spend more money on their own vacations, they should let all of the people earn what the voters mandated at the ballot box they could.
Both parties need to pursue an agenda that invests in Human Capital.
People need to let their state Representatives and Senators know whether or not they support reducing the minimum wage for people under 22. If this bill should somehow get Governor Ducey’s signature, then the people who are against it need to band together and contest the measure in court so it can be nullified on constitutional and anti-discrimination grounds.