The state Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-3 Tuesday to pass a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50.
Senate Bill 416, sponsored by Sen. Richard Martinez, D-Espanola, would raise minimum wage effective Jan. 1 of next year.
Martinez said he knows people who are struggling under the current wage and an increase to $8.50 would be “just a start.”
“These people can’t survive. They’re not making it,” he said. “I think this is the moral thing to do.”
Sen. William Soules, D-Las Cruces, who spoke in support of the bill, said research indicates increases in minimum wage eventually benefit the economy as a whole because the money would be spent immediately.
“When money moves, the economy improves,” he said.
Committee member Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, voted in favor of the bill, but also expressed concerns as to how the state could enforce the raise, as some businesses in Albuquerque reportedly refuse to honor the city’s voter-approved minimum wage increase.
Committee member Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, voted against the bill. She has said before that she would oppose an increase, believing it would have a negative impact on the ability of employers to hire.
The bill will move on to the Corporations and Transportation Committee.