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6 Reasons Why Young People Need to Vote This November

  1. Supreme Court  

There is one vacancy on the bench after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and there may be more in the coming years. Shifting the balance of the court will aid in confirming legislation you support. Vote for the Presidential and Senate candidates who will nominate and confirm justices who align with your interpretation of the Constitution.

  1. Student Debt

Student debt is one of the most pressing issues facing young people in the United States. As of November 2016, total outstanding student debt has reached almost 1.4 trillion dollars. Voting for politicians with concrete proposals to combat this crisis will be important in setting up young people for a financially stable future.

  1. Climate Change

Climate Change is a serious problem, and we are already experiencing the consequences of our environmental policies. Polar ice is already melting, raising the sea levels. Rising sea levels and increased global temperatures threaten our future and presents an enormous threat to civilization.Unless we elect leaders who will act urgently to combat this crisis, young people will be the demographic most seriously affected by climate change.

  1. Criminal Justice Reform

Currently, the United States includes about 4% of the world’s population, but about 22% of the world’s prisoners . Many Americans are put behind bars for decades for non-violent crimes. Do you want another generation of mass incarceration in our country?

  1. National Debt    

As of October 24, 2016, the national debt is almost $20 trillion. If our country’s debt continues to increase in the coming years, young people will pay the price of this crisis. Electing officials who are committed to alleviating this crisis is vital for our economic future.

  1. It is your Constitutional Responsibility!

“Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” was the motto of advocates for lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 during the Vietnam War. Many young people were being drafted to fight overseas, but they did not have a say in who was sending them. The right of young people to vote is now protected under the 26th Amendment of the Constitution. Today, millennials make up the largest age demographic in the United States; this will be one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Exercise your constitutional right to vote at the local, state, and federal levels to shape future policy decisions in our communities.


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Raise the Wage: Calling on Young People in Washington, Arizona, Maine, and Colorado

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Raising the minimum wage has been a contentious issue, especially in this year’s election. Four states, Washington, Arizona, Maine, and Colorado, are considering proposals to gradually raise their minimum wages over the next few years. How will the voices of young people shape minimum wage policy in these states, and if these policies are enacted, how will a higher cost of labor directly impact young people?

Firstly, let’s consider the origin of the minimum wage. The first minimum wage, implemented in 1938, was set at 25 cents per hour. The most recent federal minimum wage hike was enacted in 2009; since then, it has stood at $7.25. However, states and cities have passed higher minimum wages for their respective areas; for example, the wages of New York City fast food workers will raise to $15 per hour by 2018.

Here at Youth Caucus of America, we strongly support gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $10 an hour, and we support proposals to raise it even more in specific areas with a higher cost of living. Minimum wage is an issue that disproportionately affects youth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, 48.2% of those earning at or below minimum wage were between the ages of 16 and 24. Raising the minimum wage, especially to a rate over $10 per hour, has benefits and drawbacks for young people:

PRO: You Earn More Money

This is a given—if the minimum wage is increased, young people working at minimum wage will earn more money per hour. This would be especially helpful for students with busy schedules who are unable to work longer hours.

CON: You May Be More Likely To Be Laid Off

If the price of labor increases to the point where a business owner has to let some workers go, it would not be surprising if young people take the biggest hit. Who is more likely to be kept on the job: a 35 year old with years of work experience, or a 16 year old with less experience? This may also create barriers for young people attempting to enter the workforce if they are facing greater competition with older applicants.

This November, the issue of raising the minimum wage will be on the ballot in Washington, Arizona, Maine, and Colorado. In a nutshell, here are the policies you will be voting on if you live in these states:

Washington

  •      Incrementally raising the minimum wage from $11.00/hr in 2017 to $13.50/hr by 2020
  •      Mandated paid sick leave provided by employers

Maine

  •      Raise the minimum wage from $9.00/hr to $12.00/hr incrementally—one dollar per year until 2020 when it begins increasing according to cost of living
  •      Immediate increase of the tipped minimum wage to $5.00, and then incrementally by one dollar per year until it reaches the same value as the normal minimum wage (this will occur in 2024 or later)

Colorado

  •      Raising the minimum wage to $9.30/hr in 2017
  •      Incrementally raising it 90 cents per year after 2017 until it is $12.00/hr in 2020
  •      After 2020, it will no longer be changed every year based on inflation, it will be changed based on cost of living

Arizona

  •      Raising the minimum wage to $10.00/hr in 2017, and then gradually raising to $12.00/hr in 2020
  •      Annual increase based on cost of living starting in 2021
  •      Employers must provide paid sick time

Clearly, raising the minimum wage is a complex issue with compelling arguments on both sides. Since we are a non-partisan organization, at Youth Caucus of America we are calling young people of all political leanings in Washington, Maine, Colorado, and Arizona to cast their votes on these important measures. A high youth voter turnout this November will be pivotal in enacting policy to benefit young people. Even if you are not from these states, fight for the minimum wage in your own area and make your voice heard!

 

By Kate Canavan, Staff Writer


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