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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “New work-study program beneficial for students, state”

    When it comes to education, the Arizona state Legislature is mercurial at best. Just when you’re about to lose hope in the abilities of our legislators, given their dubious collective choice to mandate flags in classrooms and consideration of banning certain books and using state university funds for private universities, they come up with something awesome.

    And then they let it languish.

    HB 2626 would allow students who participate in work-study programs to work off campus as long as the job is related to their field of study. Businesses involved would have to create a new job for the student, and the state would set aside $5 million to augment the salaries of these positions. Preference would be given to students who were formerly in foster care and to those whose jobs relate very specifically to their majors.

    Big kudos go to Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog for her vocal and tireless support of the bill, even when it seemed doomed by partisan politics. Hopefully our state legislators will match her enthusiasm in the upcoming session.

    The bill passed in the House last year, but funding issues finished its run in the Senate. However, HB 2626 gets a second chance this January. Hopefully our state legislators will pass it, doing something great for Arizona students and Arizona businesses in one fell swoop.

    Some say this bill would be corporate welfare, allowing businesses to exploit student workers since they wouldn’t have to pay them as much as a regular worker. But this is exactly the opposite of what will happen.

    The bill is Arizona’s chance to actually benefit from its student population. It would be a huge relief for students who would rather be interning in, say, an architect’s office, but are flipping burgers instead, unable to afford the almost uniformly low salaries internships offer. A student benefiting from a position created with funding from the bill would get the opportunity for intellectual rigor at work as well as the chance to do the networking students who can afford to take low- or non-paying internships get to. And Arizona businesses would benefit from the talented pool of student workers our state university system boasts.

    Arizona would not be a pioneer in this program, either. Eighteen other states provide students with the option of state-sponsored work-study programs. In 2005-2006, the state of Washington decided that its program was such a success that it bumped up the funding from $750,000 to $17.5 million, with 65 percent of student salaries being subsidized.

    With a second vote, this bill has a new lease on life. It’s our state representatives and senators’ responsibility to make sure HB 2626 passes. The impact this bill could have on students – and on the economy of the state – is invaluable.

    Let’s hope this time everyone realizes it.


    OPINIONS BOARD

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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