AUGUSTA – Democrats in the Maine State Legislature beat back efforts today to repeal, undermine and replace the successful minimum wage increase passed by Maine voters in a November 2016 referendum. LD 1757 “An Act to Protect Maine’s Economy by Slowing the Rate at Which the State’s Minimum Wage will Increase and Establishing a Training and Youth Wage,” was rejected 81-69.
According to the Maine Center on Economic Policy, 59,000 Mainers received higher pay in January due to the increase. Additional analysis shows that total wages in Maine grew by $587 million in the first half of 2017 compared with the first half of 2016 – a 4.7 percent year-over-year increase.
House Speaker Sara Gideon released the following statement:
“Raising the minimum wage provides hard-working Mainers with income to spend on the basics they need, exactly the type of economic boost needed by families in every county. The fact is that no one who works full-time should be living in poverty. Across the state, owners of small and large businesses are recognizing that fair wages and higher profits go hand in hand and that this referendum has been good for their bottom line. House Democrats will continue to fight for policies that strengthen our economy and reject efforts that undermine hard-working Maine employees.”
Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee Co-Chair Rep. Ryan Fecteau (D-Biddeford) released the following statement:
“Efforts to undermine the minimum wage increase will continue to fail because Mainers recognize that people deserve a wage they can live on, and while the cost of living has gone up year after year, for a lot of Maine people, paychecks have not. 59,000 hard-working Mainers got an overdue raise just last month that went directly into their pockets and the cash registers of our local businesses, strengthening Maine’s economy and our communities. We don’t need to choose winners and losers. Maine businesses are making record profits. It’s time that more Maine families got a raise.”
LD 1757 as originally drafted would cut the current minimum wage of $10 per hour to $9.50 per hour beginning in June of this year, and reduce the annual increases in Maine’s minimum wage from $1 a year to 50 cents per year and cap the increase at $11 per hour instead of the current expected rate of $12 an hour by 2021. The bill also establishes a lower “training wage” for employees under the age of 18.