The Consequences of the Arizona Minimum Wage and Paid Time Off Initiative (Prop 206) on CHSRC
Covenant Home School Resource Center is a non-profit business, but more than a business, we are a ministry. We’ve never been able to pay our staff members much, but we are grateful that they have a vision for our ministry and have been willing to work, not only for low wages, but also without benefits such as vacation or sick pay.
For several years CHSRC was in survival mode. By 2012, things stabilized and we dutifully (and responsibly) raised the staff pay to above minimum wage.This accomplishment was huge for us! I was proud that our little non-profit grew to better compensate our wonderful staff members! From 2012-2016 we began to flourish; closing in the red only once. We worked hard to be good stewards, by keeping our expenses low, analyzing our cost-expense ratios, and providing fair and affordable services. In 2012, I spent time studying payroll trends, raises, and promotions in comparable companies. The results encouraged us to proudly implement a wage increase system designed to ensure that CHSRC will continue long into the future, while retaining experienced and knowledgeable staff. I was very pleased with our baby steps!
Fast forward to November 8, 2016. The Arizona Minimum Wage and Paid Time Off initiative, a.k.a. Prop 206, was on the ballot. When it passed, my heart sank. How was our little non-profit business going to manage a 44% increase in the minimum wage rate and provide paid sick time? How was CHSRC going to absorb this new mandated expense that continues to rise year after year? All the progress we made expanding the gap between our employees pay and the minimum wage is now gone. Overnight, our new superior compensation fell equal to the minimum wage. CHSRC’s long-term and dedicated staff members are again at the bottom of the pay scale. Unfortunately, that will continue until 2020 when minimum wage increases stop. At that point, I will be back to where I was in 2012, analyzing numbers and looking for ways to pay our staff more than minimum wage. But it will be much, much harder. I confess, I am slightly resentful all the efforts we made to make CHSRC a competitive employer have been cancelled out by a misguided proposition.
How are we adjusting to this extreme payroll increase? First of all, we were forced to cut employee hours to three days per week. We are learning to use technology more efficiently and streamlining our office procedures. Most importantly, we are using marketing and social media to expand our reach into the homeschool community in Arizona and around the world!
Can we increase our income? In regards to book sales, our used books are already priced fairly and we can’t increase the price of new books as we need to follow vendor agreements and remain competitive. Unfortunately, in 2018, and the following years, we will be forced to increase the fees of testing and other services. We expect to continue encouraging homeschoolers to shop at our local bookstore and share, with their friends and families, everything that CHSRC has to offer! We pray, for those who can, to consider donating the funds and/or used curriculum which enables CHSRC to serve thousands of homeschooling families, each year.
No matter what, we know that God has a plan for CHSRC regardless of Arizona voter decisions. He is in charge and He knows how He will continue to get us through financially challenging times.
Pray for us and come visit us at CHSRC!