Gov. Susana Martinez officially kept her promise that she would veto minimum wage increases.
In her Thursday veto message of one of the bills, HB 442, Martinez said increasing the minimum wage would hurt small businesses throughout the state.
The bill would have increased the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour. It also would have barred local governments from passing or keeping current laws that require employers to give advance notice of work schedules to employees.
“This bill was part of a wider effort in both chambers to provide increased opportunity to hardworking New Mexicans,” House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said in a statement Thursday night. “No one working 40 hours a week should be struggling to put food on the table, and this bill would have provided a fair shot for New Mexico families to get ahead. Securing a brighter future for all New Mexicans will continue being the priority of Democrats in the House and we will continue to push to make that a reality.”
Martinez also vetoed another minimum wage bill, SB 386, which would have raised the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.
The veto message on the Senate version was similar to that of the House bill, including criticisms of a revenue package. Martinez said the package was “$350 million in new taxes on businesses and families, including increasing taxes on a tank of gas.”
The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, was disappointed in the veto of the bill, which was backed by the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.
“This session the business and labor communities came together to support a modest raise for families who too often struggle to make ends meet,” said Sanchez. “Even then, Governor Martinez seems to disagree that anyone working a full-time job should be able to afford to put food on the table and clothes on their children’s back. It’s unfortunate that with the stroke of a pen she can keep $3 thousand dollars a year out of the pockets of some of the hardest working New Mexicans who have not seen a raise in over seven years.”
After the end of the legislative session earlier this year, Martinez said she would have accepted a minimum wage of between $8.00 per hour and $9.00 per hour.
It isn’t the first time Martinez vetoed a minimum wage bill. In 2013, Martinez vetoed a bill that would have increased the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour. At the time, Martinez said she would have accepted a smaller minimum wage increase. In 2014, Martinez said she would have supported an increase to $8.00 per hour. The Legislature was unable to pass a minimum wage increase that year.
“Members of the New Mexico business community traveled from all over the state to express concern to legislators about the large proposed increase and the prohibition on local policies, which they argued does not go far enough in protecting their rights as business owners,” Martinez wrote in her veto message. “The business community’s concerns were ultimately not addressed.”
The bills passed both the House and Senate on party-line votes, with Democrats voting for the increase and Republicans voting against.
Martinez also signed a bill that would cap the interest rate on storefront loans at 175 percent.
Advocates sought a cap at 36 percent, but after raising the cap to 175 percent, the industry supported the legislation.
New Mexico legislators have been seeking to curb predatory practices from similar types of loans for years.
After changes, the bill ultimately passed the House on a 64-2 vote and the Senate on a closer 27-14 vote.
Update: Added a quote by Brian Egolf.
Update 2: Added a quote by Clemente Sanchez.