Senate Passes Minimum Wage Constitutional Amendment

Sen. Richard C. Martinez

STATE News:

SANTA FE—In a 24-17 vote, Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR 13), which proposes a constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage in New Mexico, has passed the Senate. The resolution will now be making its way to the House Floor.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Richard C. Martinez, D-Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval & Santa Fe, said he couldn’t be happier that his fellow senators recognized the importance this resolution carries.

“Raising the minimum wage is the right thing to do and passing this resolution is a great thing for the people of New Mexico who will be positively affected,” Martinez said. “It’s about helping the working families of New Mexico.”

The resolution would raise the minimum wage to a level tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) dating back to 2009. If passed in the House, the measure would be put on the ballot for voters to decide at the next general election in November. If adjusted today using the annual CPI back to 2009, the minimum wage would increase from the current statewide $7.50 to an estimated $8.20 or $8.30 per hour.

Concerns on the floor were expressed as opponents of the resolution stated they feared small business owners would be negatively affected because a hike could mean cuts to employee benefits and hours. However, at a press conference earlier this week, Santa Fe small business owner Julia Castro, who pays her staff more than minimum wage, said doing so has not hurt her business, but in fact has improved it.

“It (higher pay) improves their quality of life and morale of my staff … and also prevents high turnover,” Castro said.

Albuquerque restaurant server Israel Chavez, who also spoke at the press conference, said he benefitted when Albuquerque residents voted to raise the minimum raise. However, he said he knows people in other parts of the state who are still working at the entry-level wage and have been denied salary increases while raising families.
 

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