Democrats 1 for 2 on day in attempts to lift pay scale
Seven hours after one minimum wage bill failed, a different one cleared a Senate committee Tuesday night.
The bill would raise the minimum wage statewide from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour, starting next year.
Members of the Senate Public Affairs Committee advanced the bill on a 5-3 party-line vote. All the Republicans — Sens. Craig Brandt, Ron Griggs and Gay Kernan — voted against it.
The sponsors, Democratic Sens. Bill Soules, right, and Richard Martinez, said raising the minimum wage would be good for the economy and for the most impoverished New Mexicans.
Soules, of Las Cruces, said few policy issues have been studied more than the minimum wage. When those paid the minimum get a raise, they can buy a few more groceries and keep gas in the tank to get to work, he said.
He said the proposed $1-an-hour increase would mean an extra $40 a week to minimum wage earners. They still would not have a living wage, the bump in pay would enable them to buy more necessities.
“It’s the moral thing to do,” he said.
Albuquerque already has an $8.50 minimum wage and Santa Fe’s minimum is $10.51. The rest of New Mexico is at $7.50.
No controversy about the minimum wage exists in Santa Fe, but certain Albuquerque businesses and institutions say the recent $1 increase that voters overwhelming approved is hurting them.
The Senate bill moves next to the Corporations Committee. It is SB 416.
Earlier Tuesday, a House committee defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to raise the state minimum wage in relation to inflation.