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Senate passes minimum wage increase

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SANTA FE — An effort to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour across New Mexico passed the Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 416, sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, passed on 25-17 vote along party lines, with Democrats supporting the increased minimum wage and Republicans opposed.

The bill would require increased wages in New Mexico communities that have not independently increased wages above the current minimum $7.50 per hour wage.

Very small businesses that employ 10 or fewer workers would be exempt from the minimum wage. The rule would also not apply to agricultural businesses and workers under the age of 18. The bill also includes a so-called “training wage” provision that will allow businesses to pay new hires $7.50 per hour during their first year of employment.

“We need to pay the working poor, that’s the bottom line,” said Martinez, the bill sponsor. “They’re working hard, they’re barely surviving. We need to raise their income.”

Senate Republicans opposed the bill saying it would hamper economic growth and force some businesses to choose not to hire new workers because in increased wage would be required.

 

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