State senator aims to increase minimum wage to $9 an hour

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Not once has the state’s minimum wage increased under Governor Susana Martinez.

The last time it went up was in 2007 under Gov. Bill Richardson, with the $7.50 an hour rate taking effect in 2009.

Now, Senator George Munoz, D-Gallup, believes he has a responsible, modest approach to the matter by suggesting a minimum wage of $9 an hour.

Senator Munoz says now is the time to put more money in the pockets of New Mexicans and be on par with other states that have raised their minimum wage in order to keep New Mexicans from leaving.

The state’s biggest three cities, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, already have higher minimum wages. Albuquerque’s is $8.95 and Santa Fe’s is $11.40.

The problem with Munoz’s idea, however, is that a nearly identical bill last year sponsored by another Senate Democrat made it all the way to the governor’s desk and was vetoed.

You know, this is the governor’s last year and a reasonable measure and a reasonable time where we need to help people, that’s all you can try,” Senator Munoz said.

In her veto message, Governor Martinez said she believes raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour would have a disproportionate effect on rural small business.

KRQE News 13 requests for comment from the governor’s office on this story have yet to receive a response.

Senator Munoz’s bill has passed one committee so far.

Even if it did pass, Senator Munoz’s measure still would not put New Mexico in the top 10 highest minimum wage states. All the top 10 states have wages higher than $10 an hour, including Arizona, Colorado and California.

Another measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is also on the table this year.

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