March 16, 2017

Minimum-wage hike to $9 heads to governor

The state minimum wage will increase to $9 an hour from $7.50 by April 2018 if Gov. Susana Martinez signs a bill that has been passed by both houses of the Legislature.

The House of Representatives on Thursday night voted 41-27 to pass Senate Bill 386, sponsored by Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants.

The bill would increase New Mexico’s hourly minimum wage to $8.25 in October, then to $9 in April 2018. It also would allow employers to have an $8 training wage for employees for 60 days, which would go into effect in October.

The minimum wage for tipped employees, currently $2.13 an hour, would rise to $2.38 in October, then to $2.63 in April 2018.

Several Republicans from small towns and rural areas argued that raising the wage will make it hard for “mom-and-pop” businesses in their areas.

But the bill has been endorsed by some business organizations, including the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, which in the past has fought minimum-wage bills.

Three of New Mexico’s four largest cities already have minimum wages higher than the one proposed in the bill. Santa Fe’s minimum wage, the state’s highest, recently increased to $11.09 an hour.

Rep. Rebecca Dow, R-Truth or Consequences, said hamburgers in Santa Fe, which has a higher minimum wage, cost several times what a hamburger costs in her area, Sierra County.

But Rep. Eliseo Alcon, R-Milan, mocked the notion that a higher wage would be disastrous. He said there were not massive layoffs or business closings in Santa Fe or Albuquerque when those cities adopted higher wages.

All present Democrats voted for the bill, while most Republicans voted against it. However, several House Republicans voted for approval, including Reps. Alonzo Baldonado of Los Lunas. Jim Dines of Albuquerque, Kelly Fajardo of Belen, Sarah Maestas Barnes of Albuquerque and Bill Rehm of Albuquerque.

Contact Steve Terrell at 505-986-3037 or Read his political blog at