Highline prepared for minimum wage hike
By Zico Dumo - Staff Reporter
Despite the minimum wage increase initiative approved by the voters on Nov. 8, Highline will not see any major changes in student or staff employment.
On this year's November ballot, Initiative 1433, also known as the Washington Minimum Wage Increase was approved 57.42 percent to 42.58 percent. This initiative states that the minimum wage will rise from $9.47 to $11 on Jan. 1, 2017. Subsequent raises will take effect each succeeding New Year's Day through 2020. In 2018 the rate will be $11.50; in 2019 it will be $12; and on 2020 it will jump all the way to $13.50. It also mandates employers offer paid sick leave.
With more money being pulled out of the school to pay employees, Highline employees may be concerned for their jobs or if the college's budget will be able to take the change.
Highline has an estimated amount of 400 student employees, according to Sue Paulson, the Payroll Coordinator.
Cathy Cartwright, Highline's budget director said that when the budget was formulated, staff made sure they had some money left over to deal with any surprises.
The extra chunk of money in the budget ensures that no employees will get laid off or that any major programs will be defunded, Cartwright said.
"We're just starting to have conversations about it, but I don't foresee any major or [problematic] changes," Cartwright said.
She said that the minimum wage hike isn't a stressing concern, and most employees are focusing on other issues.
"We won't have any solid information on it until January or February, when we set the new budget," she said.
She said that by then, conversations about the increase will be more secure and slight changes in the budget will be enacted. However, she does not see any negative impacts coming out of the initiative passing.
The initiative was generally popular on the west side of the state, but all counties east of the Cascades rejected the proposal. Overall it carried by almost half a million votes, racking up nearly 70 percent approval in King County.