- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Voter approval of a ballot measure increasing the Alaska minimum wage could increase earnings of Alaska school bus drivers.

A state law passed in 1989 requires school bus drivers to be paid at least twice the minimum wage and minimum compensation for them could increase by $4 per hour by Jan. 1, 2016, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1CCEnIc) reported.

Bus drivers would not see an immediate increase when the minimum wage increases. The law does not force employers to increase driver pay midway through a contract.

Alaska voters by a margin of more than 2-1 approved Ballot Measure 3 on Nov. 4.

The state minimum wage has been $7.75 per hour since 2009. That meant minimum bus driver wage was $15.50 for the past five years.

Approval of the ballot measure increases the state minimum wage by $1 on Feb. 24 and by another $1 on Jan. 1, 2016, up to $9.75 per hour.

The base pay for school bus drivers will increase by $2 per hour for each increase to the minimum wage, climbing to $19.50 per hour in 2016.

The statute requiring bus driver wages at double the minimum wage was part of the 1989 Alaska School bus Safety Act.

The change could eventually add several hundred thousand dollars annually to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District transportation costs.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

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