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Arizona lawmakers ready to open 2017 legislative session

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PHOENIX — Incoming Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard said the most immediate challenge for Arizona lawmakers was implementing the minimum-wage measure.

Prop. 206, which voters approved last fall, has boosted the state minimum wage to $10 per hour from $8.05.

That will impact the state budget, Mesnard (R-Chandler) said.

“We were coming in looking at a budget where we were slightly in the positive with a surplus of $20 million or $30 million dollars, maybe $40 million,” he said.

“Compared to where we were that’s a big success. However, the cost of implementing Prop 206 is $25 million to $50 million and growing. So the most immediate challenge is adapting to that and figuring out how to comply while also trying to fund the priorities in this session including education.”

Mesnard said this legislative session opens up with 23 new members in the House and while there will be a learning curve, he’s confident about the group.

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