Tonight, it appears that AZ voters will pass Prop 202 to raise recreation use fees in Arizona. Oh, you say that's not what Prop 202 was for? It was minimum wage? That's right. Prop 202 raises the minimum wage in AZ by 31%.
I have written about the minimum wage many times. For a variety of reasons, many seasonal recreation workers in AZ, and in fact in the US, are retired folks who work for minimum wage and a camp site to take care of a facility. They love the job, and do great work, while filling seasonal jobs that younger folks trying to raise a family can't really take on. When you take all wage related costs -- wages, payroll taxes, unemployment insurances, workers comp, liability insurance, etc. -- wages drive about 2/3 of recreation costs. That means that a 31% increase in wages equates to a 20% increase in recreation use fees for camping, boating, day use, etc.
What, you say? That's not what we meant! We consumers aren't supposed to pay this extra, you business guys are! Well, my profit margin is about 5% of revenues, which is a pathetically low number for a service business. Basically, I do this for fun -- I could probably make a better return investing in government bonds. So, to avoid bankruptcy, wage increases get passed right through to use fees. And since the law requires that the minimum wage be increased every year, it means that use fees will have to go up every year (for comparison, we have been able to hold many use fees flat for 3-4 years at a time, despite fuel and other costs).
Sorry. My employees were happy to work for $5.15 an hour. They did not ask for a raise. In fact, I have a waiting list of people who want jobs at $5.15. It was the voters of Arizona who decided that my employees could no longer legally accept this amount for their labor. And, unfortunately, it is the voters of Arizona who will have to pay for this raise my employees did not even ask for.