Yuma, Arizona - Arizona Western College Professor of Economics Michelle Sims presented on the impact of the minimum wage increase on small businesses in rural Arizona during a Committee on Commerce and Public Safety meeting Monday, February 12.

Sims was invited by Senator Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, to share at the state senate meeting based on the preliminary data from her doctoral research on the subject. Allen is the sponsor of Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1016, which if passed, would freeze minimum wage increases at $10.50, repeal sick leave accrual, and require all of Arizona to have the same minimum wage.

Sims testified in favor of SCR1016 along with eight others, sharing that her research has shown a large number of rural businesses in Yuma County have had to increase their prices, cut employee hours, eliminate or combine positions, and compress wages as the result of the 2016 measure that is set to raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Yuma business owner Donna George of the Peanut Patch also testified and explained that as a result of Proposition 206, she has had to cut two full-time and one part-time positions, cut advertising spending, increase prices, eliminate merit raises for long-time employees, and borrow from her own savings to make ends meet. Nine people were also present at the meeting to testify against the bill.

SCR1016 passed at the meeting by a vote of 5-3, and now the measure will be sent to the full Senate and the House. If approved, the question would go to voters in November.