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Group Applies for Ballot Initiative Boosting Flagstaff’s Minimum Wage

A Flagstaff group has applied to get a minimum-wage-increase initiative on the city’s November 2016 ballot. They say boosting wages in Flagstaff would help alleviate local poverty and combat the area’s high cost of living. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The group called Flagstaff Needs a Raise is calling for the city’s minimum wage to be increased to $10 an hour in 2017. The wage would then go up yearly until it hits $15 an hour in 2021. The proposed initiative requires Flagstaff’s minimum wage to be $2 more than the state’s, and increase annually after 2021 based on the cost of living.

The group says minimum wage hikes benefit the local economy, and allow lower-wage workers to rise out of poverty. Opponents of the increase, however, say it would hurt local businesses, and chase employers away from the area. The wage advocacy group must gather more than 2,500 signatures by July for the initiative to go on Flagstaff’s ballot.

About a dozen U.S. cities like New York and Seattle have recently passed minimum-wage increases to $15 an hour. The California legislature is also considering such a measure. Arizona’s minimum wage is currently 8 dollars and 5 cents an hour. 

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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