House approves bill to cut student wages

Photo by Ithmus | Flickr/CC BY 2.0

With only Republican support, the House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill to allow businesses to pay working students nearly $4 an hour less than the state’s minimum wage, ostensibly to allow more students to find jobs.

House Bill 2523, sponsored by Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, allows for full-time students under age 22 who work part-time or for intermittent periods to earn the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour.

Arizona’s hourly minimum wage is $11 this year, and will rise to $12 next year. The state’s minimum wage laws were passed by 58% of voters (1.4 million people) in 2016, and therefore changing or undermining them is unconstitutional.

Grantham insists his proposal doesn’t conflict with the minimum wage laws, although a House lawyer said it does.

Republicans argued HB2523 would give unemployed youth a foot in the door by giving businesses a reason to hire them. Democrats say it’s unconstitutional because it goes against the state’s voter-protected minimum wage law, is a “slap in the face” of students and is discriminatory.  

The bill was approved on a 31-29 vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Laura Gómez
Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.


  1. Personally I think this affects everyone. If you aren’t under 22, why would a company hire you at twice the cost? If you’re under 22 and supporting yourself you have to work multiple jobs. So many other reasons.

    There can’t possibly be a good thing that could come from this. It’s despicable.


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