November 21, 2016
Casa Grande Dispatch
Arizona voters easily approved Proposition 206 in the general election, raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour Jan. 1 and more later. It seemed natural for many to get behind that idea. However, some of the consequences may have been overlooked by supporters.
One industry that is being hit particularly hard is the one that provides services to the disabled. This includes about 700 providers serving 35,000 people with developmental disabilities, many of them in Pinal County. They have been operating on a thin margin already, especially after absorbing successive cuts in payments from the state in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Those cuts totaled more than 25 percent. The state has since reversed that by only a small amount.
The providers are struggling to find a way to cover the difference, and some actually could go out of business, leaving clients in a lurch. The services are a major part of their lives, including group homes where they live and places where they work.
Emergency funding seems to be the only answer here, especially since the initiative proposition cannot be easily modified. Unfortunately, the Legislature is left with little time to act.