Well, it looks like we can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to Florida’s recent attempt to slash wages for tipped workers. The Florida bill I blogged about earlier this week that would have cut the state’s tipped minimum wage by more than half has died in the state Senate. This is one death I’m happy to celebrate.
Unfortunately, the update from Arizona is not good. Yesterday, the Arizona House passed HCR 2056. The legislature has changed the ballot initiative since it was first introduced, but it has just changed how it would propose to cut the minimum wage. The initiative has been amended to remove the provisions cutting the minimum wage for tipped workers and young workers specifically, but language has been added that would end the current law policy of indexing of the minimum wage for inflation. This means that the state minimum wage, which is now slightly higher than the federal minimum ($7.65 an hour rather than $7.25), will only go up when Congress raises the federal minimum – and that’s not often. In fact, if the federal minimum wage were keeping pace with inflation, it would be more than $10 per hour, rather than the current level of $7.25.
If HCR 2056 becomes law, Arizona’s minimum wage workers will no longer see their wages increase with inflation, and the purchasing power of their wages will erode with each passing year that Congress fails to raise the federal minimum wage. But even if the Senate also approves HCR 2056 and it gets on the ballot, we hope that voters will reject it: the ballot initiative that raised the minimum wage in Arizona and indexed it for inflation passed by a nearly 2 to 1 margin just six years ago in 2006. It seems to me that the Arizona legislature is out of step with its citizens.