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AWC Students Say They Would Be Hurt By State Bill To Lower Student Workers' Pay

Republicans in the state House voted Wednesday to allow employers to pay less to student workers under 22 years old. Students at Arizona Western College in Yuma say this would cause a financial burden for student workers.

HB 2523 was given preliminary approval on a party-line vote. Capitol Media Services reports the proposal by Representative Travis Grantham, a Gilbert Republican, would require employers to only pay the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25 an hour. It’s $11 an hour in Arizona now.

Grantham said the bill would encourage employers to hire more student workers but students at AWC said earning less would be a financial burden.

Christopher Meza works part time at the University of Arizona Yuma campus and Jack in the Box.

“I know what it’s like living out on your own, paying rent, paying bills, paying insurance so going from $11 minimum wage to $7 will drastically impact me, especially in my education,” Meza said.

He added that it could mean he and his friends eat out less in restaurants and stay in because they need to makes ends meet.

Johanna Gonzalez is a student worker at AWC. She said the bill would force employers to choose between paying their current workers more or hiring more workers at lower wages.

“I also understand that there are small businesses and schools trying to give students job opportunities in order for them to have a job and get paid and still work around their school schedule and this can make it harder for them,” Gonzalez said.

The legislation will need a final roll-call vote in the state House before going to the state Senate.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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