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State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, made headlines last week after she expressed her support for a minimum wage hike. Specifically, she proposed raising the wage to $10, a more than 33 percent hike from the current federal minimum of $7.25. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, quickly fired back by stating his steadfast opposition to such a proposal, claiming it would especially cost jobs for entry-level, training positions.
The economics of a minimum wage hike are still up for debate. At its core, the controversy is predicated on the tradeoff between the elimination of jobs and the overall increase in utility among those still employed. Most studies, such as a high-profile one by the Congressional Budget Office, show that a minimum wage hike to $10 would actually result in a net gain to the economy. Other studies, such as one examining a proposal to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15, show a net negative.
But even if Davis beats the enormous odds and is elected governor, such a proposal would still be quite quixotic. The State Legislature will certainly still be heavily controlled by Republicans next year, and their representatives will undoubtedly still be hostile to such a bill. A far more realistic idea would be to change state law to allow for counties and municipalities, such as Austin, to raise their minimum wages to a higher level.
State law currently requires the entire state to stick to the federal minimum. Austin in the past has tinkered with the idea of lobbying the State Legislature to change that onerous regulation, but to no avail. As it is, the city can only set minimums for its employees and contractors.
Legislators, namely Republicans, should be far more amenable to the idea of local control. That big government should not be bullying local — more direct — representatives of the people into submission.
And students should be wildly supportive of such a measure. While many young people indubitably would be not be hired with a higher base wage, the research shows that — assuming a $10 wage would now be used — many more would be benefited with higher salaries.
Horwitz is an associate editor.
This week, the two major candidates for governor — Attorney General Greg Abbott (the Republican) and state Senator Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth (the Democrat) — unveiled new television commercials, ostensibly to be broadcast far and wide throughout the State in suceeding weeks. The Labor Day holiday, of course, is typically seen as the start of open season on TV ads, and this campaign is proving to be no exception, with the airwaves already heating up.
The Abbott ad, entitled "Garage," details his struggle with recovery following a jogging accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. It is an uplifting ad that is narrated by Abbott himself, focusing on the way in which he claims that he would run the State if elected. "Just one more," he says, is his life strategy. Voters who do not know him will surely be inspired by his positive and good-hearted message.
The Davis ad, entitled "Court," on the other hand, is negative. An ominous narration lambasts Abbott for defending cuts to public schools and for even allegedly defending standardized testing for four year old schoolchildren. The reality, however, is a bit more complicated than that. The ad then shifts back to Davis' alternative, which simply consists of broad promises to mitigate standardized testing and lessen bureaucratic waste.
Upon first glance, it may seem that I wish to fault Davis for going negative while her opponent slings no mud and simply focuses on himself. However, the unfair nature of politics almost forces Davis into such a box. Poll after poll has shown that Davis has very high name identification, possibly even higher than Abbott's. The recognition, however, is mostly negative, as a result of her almost universal association with a filibuster against anti-abortion regulations. Since it is easier to take down your opponent's positive identification than build your own, this is simply what Davis must do. Abbott can be merely complacent with maintaining the status quo. Only time will tell which strategy is succesful.
Horwitz is an associate editor.
On Tuesday, Student Government introduced legislation in support of increasing the number of classes available on a Monday-Wednesday schedule. The resolution states that if students have more flexibility in choosing their schedules, graduation rates may increase. Although there's not really a way to measure this, it definitely makes sense — low graduation rates can be attributed to many factors, so diminishing the potential severity of one factor won't do any harm.
Also, the legislation, which points out that the McCombs School of Business already offers classes only Monday through Thursday, says students with three-day weekends could work more hours, possibly reducing their debt upon graduation, and would have additional time to learn outside the classroom through interning, doing research or shadowing professionals, among other opportunities. In addition, students without Friday classes would be able to "attend interviews for, but not limited to, graduate schools, professional schools, and long-term employment with limited disruption and absence from current classes."
Cameron Crane, a College of Natural Sciences representative who co-authored the legislation, said he's applying to medical school, and he had to schedule interviews months in advance before professors had posted their syllabi.
"It's very stressful having to take time off from classes," Crane said. "This caused the stress of, ‘will this conflict with an exam?’ and many professors will not excuse you because unfortunately, it's not a University-excused absence."
At least one UT official said meeting three times per week allows more learning to occur, according to Crane. While this may be the case, I doubt the possible increase in learning is a significant enough difference to outweigh the benefits of more time to work, intern and even to study. Personally, I plan to study for at least a few hours on Fridays, because people generally don't plan much during the day on Fridays, so I'll have fewer distractions than on Saturdays and Sundays. Also, if UT included more Monday-Wednesday classes, many professors won't have to break up their lecture material into smaller time segments.
Of course, the school does offer some Monday-Wednesday classes, but the increase in scheduling options will definitely benefit all students — even if some students prefer Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, it's no doubt comforting for students to know that they have the option to focus their course schedule on the days they think would be best for them.