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Federal Minimum Wage Increase Would Be A Catch-22 For Disability Community

Published: Monday, February 1, 2021 - 9:15am
Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 12:51pm

President Biden wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. The hike is part of his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. In Arizona, the minimum wage is already $12.15 an hour. But raising the minimum wage could have lasting effects on the disability community.

It’s a Catch-22 for Jon Meyers, the executive director of the Arc of Arizona, a disability advocacy group.

"While we support a rise in the minimum wage so that everyone can make a living wage, we also understand that there have to be some other steps taken to make it workable, said Meyers.

That’s because the Division of Developmental Disabilities, which is a state agency, is underfunded by at least $150 million dollars, according to Meyers. And that means that providers are not being paid what they should be paid in order to provide the services so many in the disability community rely on, like day programs.

"Unless additional funding is made available to the DD services and providers, they’re simply not going to be able to accommodate that vast of an increase in the wages they have to pay," Meyers said.

And Meyers says that means some providers could go out of business. Meyers said many providers are already struggle after Arizonans approved Prop 206, which increased the state minimum wage.

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