|Shooting ourselves in the employment foot|
“It is the absolute moral and right thing to do,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said while Republicans warned that the raise would endanger small businesses already struggling in tough economic times and could well lead to increased prices for consumers.
The bill – Senate Bill 416 – had been amended before coming to the Senate floor to exempt businesses with fewer than 11 employees, which is estimated to include about 75 percent of New Mexico employers. The amended bill also exempts agricultural workers and “trainees” for one year.
The debate on the Senate floor sometimes got passionate and the bill survived a couple of floor amendments, including one from Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, who called for raising the minimum wage all the way to $21.87 an hour. Sharer said if raising the wage improves the economy as its supporters say, then it would logically follow that raising the wage to an even higher figure would improve economic fortunes even more. “Let’s quit piddling around,” Sen. Sharer said.
But the amendment was voted down and in the end, SB416 passed 25-17. “It’s real hard to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you were born with no boots,” said one of the bill’s supporters, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque. The bill now heads to the House where Democrats hold a 38-32 edge. But even if it gets through that chamber, there is doubt whether Republican Gov. Susana Martinez will sign the increase into law. Read more