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California Raises Minimum Wage

*This article does not represent the views of Her Campus FSU

On March 31, 2016, the state of California raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Governor Jerry Brown plans to sign the bill into law by April 4. California will be the first state to pass this bill, made popular by a national movement of low-wage workers to raise the minimum wage so that employees can live without the assistance of second jobs or tips. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has suggested that he may produce and sign a similar bill. This rise in minimum wage has come in response to political and economic pressures from voters.

It is worth noting that the current minimum wage in California is $10, which will be raised to $15 over the course of the following six years. Should economic decline affect the state, Governor Brown reserves the right to postpone the increase in wages. Businesses employing 25 or fewer are allowed seven years to increase wages to $15 an hour, under regulations of inflation. California’s current minimum wage is significantly higher than that of most states, whose wages fluctuate between $7.25 (the federal minimum wage) and $8.25. Only 15 states, including the District of Columbia, include in their wage laws cause to raise the minimum wage with regards to increased costs of living. Florida is one of these states. Only 10 states actually increase minimum wage each year.

Courtesy: CNBC

Florida’s minimum wage currently sits at $8.05, and will be raised to $8.61 by 2018. Considering the “starting” minimum wage is almost two dollars lower than that of California, it can be safely assumed that the days of $15 starting salaries are far from us. FSU, lovingly nestled among the dirty clubs and dive bars that support the lack of strip clubs, is in the capital of Florida: Tallahassee. According to a cost-of-living index by Sperling’s, the cost of living in Tallahassee is significantly higher than that of other Florida cities (Tallahassee boasts the most expensive utilities bills in the Sunshine State), with grocery and transportation costs exceeding the averages of the entire United States. This is where college students – the future, the poor, the exclusively-Ramen-noodle-eating-for-three-semesters members of society – live.

According to an article by the Florida State Times on FSU’s contributions to the local economy, FSU is Tallahassee’s main consumer of natural gas, water and electricity, paying roughly $25 million in utility bills annually. That makes up about 10 percent of Tallahassee’s total utility revenue. Millions of dollars are pumped into the Tallahassee economy by the 36,000+ student body, whose bank accounts, cell phone bills, rent payments, tuition payments, Blaze Pizza cravings and more contribute to a thriving environment which arguably would not exist without them. So, yes, the student body is good for Tallahassee. But is Florida, is Tallahassee, and is FSU good for the student body?

With a minimum wage of $15 an hour far from our grasp, working students flail under the pressures of school and providing for oneself, especially those students who are not supported completely by parents or scholarships. I know that my own gratitude for a paying job faded into mediocre grades and still being unable to pay all my bills in full. In California, the social awareness of the state and the political pressures of their constituents spurred economic action. In the capital of Florida, this socio-economic and political pressure must be applied to the members of our legislative community in order to improve the lives of students whose very existence in the Tallahassee economy – as well as other Florida locales, as FSU is not the only college whose economic contributions greatly support their towns – helps it to thrive.

Of course, entire state economies are not based on student living, but if we live in a world where articles about Kendall Jenner are considered news, I allow myself to play hypothesizer with politics. It has become increasingly pertinent to demand living wages, as political action has demonstrated the possibility of change in states like California. This is especially true for students in such communities as FSU, whose economic contributions to their locality deserve economic compensation that is both sustainable and consistent with costs of living. Even a Florida State student would agree that California is the state to emulate, especially now. 

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