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Statewide minimum wage will increase on Sunday

Posted at 10:19 PM, Dec 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 00:19:30-05

Arizona residents voted "yes" on Proposition 206, which would raise the statewide minimum wage from $8.05/hour to $10/hour in 2017, and up to $12/hour by 2020. However, opponents tried to stop it from taking effect on January 1, until the State Supreme Court shut down that effort on Thursday.

Some Tucson business owners, like Rocco Digrazia, say this will have a negative effect for both business owners and customers. He owns Rocco's Little Chicago Pizzeria. He hopes his customers will remain loyal, and understand that he needs to.

"I'm considering eliminating some menu items that aren't as profitable," Digrazia said. "I'm sure everybody is going through the same agonizing things that I am, and I've talked to other chefs that are saying the same thing."

The Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce agrees with Digrazia. An opponent of the proposition from the start, President & CEO Michael Varney says this will take away jobs, drive prices of merchandise up, and the consumers will be the ones who have to pick up the tab.

Digrazia raised many of his prices and gotten rid of certain specials and discounts this week, in an effort to not have to lay off any employees. However, he says there won't be overtime anymore.

"That simply isn't going to happen in this new era, I can't afford it," he said.

Speaking to his employees work ethic?

"Frankly, if I have to pay these wages," he said. "You better be doing a good job."

Jennifer Newmann owns Cashew Cow in Tucson. She says this won't have an effect on her business in the short term because she already pays her employees a minimum of $10/hour. However, once it's reaches $12/hour by 2020, she'll have to make some changes then.

"I am just thinking about tomorrow right now, I'm thinking about the New Year," Newmann said. "So many things can change."

Jared Marken is from Colorado, where a very similar wage hike will take place starting in the New Year as well. He makes minimum wage, and personally likes the idea for himself, but doesn't think it will benefit the greater economy.

"I'd be able to make more money, but overall, since the money is coming out of other people's pockets, I don't believe this is particularly beneficial for the whole economy," he said. "It's just going to harm others even though I benefit."

Arizona is just one of 19 states set to raise minimum wage in 2017.