SANTA FE (KRQE) - Santa Fe's done it. Albuquerque's done it. Now there's a push to raise and keep raising the minimum wage statewide and keep raising it.
Key Democrats have been clear since the start of the 60-day legislative session that they would be pushing for a minimum-wage hike.
Now one state rep wants a wage increase built into the New Mexico Constitution.
Under Democratic Rep. Miguel Garcia's proposed constitutional amendment, New Mexico's minimum hourly wage would go up every July based on the national rate of inflation.
If his bill had been law last year, for example, New Mexicans making the state minimum wage would have received a 20-cent raise from $7.50 an hour to $7.70 based on the inflation rate of nearly 3 percent.
And because it would be a constitutional amendment, if both the Democrat-controlled House and Senate approve it, voters--not the governor--would get the final say.
"The good thing about my legislation is it's in the hands of the people of the state of New Mexico," Garcia of Albuquerque said.
Two-thirds of Albuquerque voters approved a local minimum-wage hike of $1 in from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour in November. Santa Fe's wage will jump to $10.51 in March, the second highest in the nation.
Many Republicans are against having the state follow suit saying a wage boost is bad for business and could backfire on low-wage workers.
"What we would not want is an unintended consequence of having people lose their job or moving to part time or something of that nature," said. Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park.
If lawmakers approve it this session, the earliest voters could likely decide on a the wage plan is during the 2014 election.
A separate Democratic proposal to raise the minimum wage this year is expected to be unveiled at a news conference on Monday.
Gov. Susana Martinez said lawmakers shouldn't pass anything that makes New Mexico less competitive. However, she's also said she'll consider any bill that makes it to her desk.
New Mexico's last minimum wage hike was in 2009 when it went from $6.50 an hour to $7.50.
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