by Andrew Oxford, Santa Fe New Mexican
January 26, 2017
Lawmakers took a step Wednesday toward raising New Mexico’s minimum wage.
Members of the House Labor and Economic Development committee voted 6-5 along party lines to advance a bill sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, that would increase the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.50 over the next three years. Tipped employees would have to be paid at least 40 percent of the minimum wage, a boost from the $2.13 per hour they’re now paid. And starting in 2021, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually based on the cost of living.
Business groups have fiercely opposed such legislation. But one of the state’s most influential industry organizations signaled it is open to negotiating a smaller increase, softening its longtime position and suggesting a hike might be inevitable.
“We are very willing and interested in being at the table to try to negotiate something,” said Terri Cole, president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
Gerry Bradley, an analyst from the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children, told committee members about 112,000 workers around the state are paid the state minimum wage of $7.50, and that at least half of those workers are older than 50. He also said those at the bottom of the pay scale increasingly have a formal education.
“We’re seeing more and more better-educated