January 24, 2017
Companies serving the state's most vulnerable say the recent minimum wage hike could force them to cut services or close their doors unless the Legislature ponies up more money.
Many of these firms depend on workers making minimum wage. So, when voters decided to raise it to $10 an hour, it hit their bottom line.
There are roughly 630 businesses in Arizona that care for the developmentally disabled and they are asking Gov. Doug Ducey and state lawmakers to increase state aid to help offset their higher labor costs.
Ducey has already proposed an $15.6 million in additional aid for the next fiscal year on top of $7 million in supplemental funding for the current fiscal year.
However, those working for these firms say that's still not enough.
"We don't have enough staff for our programs and if funding continues to deteriorate those issues will just get worse," said John Moore, president and CEO of MARC Community Resources in Mesa.
The East Valleybased nonprofit serves over 4,500 people with disabilities and says there is a waiting list for people who need their care.
If the state doesn't step up, Moore says the waiting list will grow and MARC might have to cut back the programs they offer.
To raise awareness at the Capitol, Moore and others filed into a packed legislative hearing room today to make their case for addition state dollars.
No decisions on funding were made.
This is just the beginning of what is usually a long and emotional budget process, where lawmakers decide where to send taxpayer money.
Many lawmakers say there's not a lot of additional money to go around and there are a lot of different groups and states departments arguing more for more cash.
For example, the governor has already vowed to make K12 education a top priority.