Lawmakers push to raise Arizona’s minimum wage, local businesses speak out

Lawmakers push to raise Arizona’s minimum wage, local businesses speak out

YUMA, Ariz. – Republican lawmakers agreed to ask voters to increase the state’s minimum wage Thursday, but in a way that businesses would like.

Manager Laurie Nau’Martocci at Lutes Casino said, “Your hourly rate to your labor costs that would have a huge impact. As you go into your slower seasons you’re struggling to try and keep people employed year round. You don’t want to lay anyone off.”

California and New York lawmakers recently passed bills lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next several years. In Arizona, the current minimum wage is $8.05. Local business owners say even though it wouldn’t be as high as it is in other states every penny counts. 

Nau’Martocci, “You’d probably have to keep your staff help lower to help balance out your cost of doing business and it would definitely mean an increase in prices for some products.”

“And then the last and possibly the worst would be to shut down the operations if you can’t keep it going,” adds the owner of Ronnie’s Pizza, Ronnie Rubino.

HRC 2014, given preliminary senate approval, would require employers to pay their workers at least $9.50 an hour by 2020. The current voter-approved law, with annual inflation adjustments, might have boosted the current $8.05 minimum to perhaps close to $9.

Nau’Martocci said, “That does mean that you do have to bump those that are at that point now as a second or third year employee. That’s going to have to go up to keep those people above minimum wage.”

Rubino adds, “Most minimum wage jobs are usually part time. And the minimum wage job was never designed for somebody to go out and buy a house, car and raise a family, it was a starting point.”

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