Their bill calls for pay of at least $8.50 an hour statewide
Two Democrats in the state Senate today introduced a bill that would raise the minimum wage in New Mexico to $8.50 an hour, a dollar-an-hour jump for most cities.
The increase statewide would be consistent with the new minimum wage in Albuquerque.
Sens. William Soules of Las Cruces and Richard Martinez, right, of Espanola are teaming up on the bill. They said the increase would be good for the economy.
Soules said someone making the current minimum of $7.50 an hour would see a wage increase of about $2,000 a year under the bill. That would make the worker's net pay only $17,000, he said.
But the extra money they earn would be poured back into the economy for purchases of food, gasoline, clothing and shelter, Soules said.
Martinez said those necessities cost about the same or more in rural New Mexico than they do in Albuquerque. He predicted the bill for an $8.50 minimum wage would clear the Legislature, and he challenged Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to sign it.
Enrique Knell, Gov. Martinez’s press secretary, was noncommittal about the bill.
“During these uncertain and difficult economic times, we need to make sure that anything that passes through the Legislature makes New Mexico more competitive,” Knell said.
The proposal to raise the minimum wage statewide is Senate Bill 416.
Santa Fe has the highest minimum wage in New Mexico and one of the highest in the country at $10.51 an hour.
Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said the decision to pay workers more was a
wise one by Santa Fe voters. In a capital city with a service-based
economy, worker turnover has been reduced because employees make a
higher wage, Egolf said.
House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said any resistance to a higher minimum wage statewide could be rebutted.
Those who say it would kill jobs and raise prices for weary consumers would be missing the bigger picture, said Speaker Martinez, right.
“A fair state is a welcoming state. People will come here,” he said.
State Rep. Miguel Garcia also has a bill to raise the minimum wage. His calls for annual increases at the same rate as inflation.
Garcia’s proposal, House Joint Resolution 6, would go to the voters in 2014 if the Legislature approves it.
Garcia, D-Albuquerque, said when the Legislature gives tax breaks to millionaires there is no trickle down to workers. But, he said, a fair wage for workers would strengthen local economies and protect workers.