NM group backs higher minimum wage to help kids

September 24, 2013 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A group advocating for policies to help children and low-income families recommends New Mexico raise its minimum wage and boost spending on early childhood programs, including child care and pre-kindergarten.

New Mexico Voices for Children on Monday outlined a broad policy agenda to address findings by a national survey this year that found New Mexico [auth] worst in the nation for child wellbeing.

The advocacy group didn’t recommend a specific amount the wage rate should be increased but said raising the hourly wage to $10.10 would help a fifth of children by increasing at least one parent’s income. The group said the minimum wage should automatically go up each year to adjust for inflation.

The nonprofit organization also is recommending increasing the payout from a state permanent fund to provide additional money for early childhood programs. Similar measures have failed in the Legislature in the past, however.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed a bill this year that would have increased the hourly minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour. The Democratic-controlled Legislature rejected a proposal backed by the governor to raise the hourly minimum wage to $7.80, which is the same as Arizona.

The group’s other recommendations included broadening who’s eligible to receive subsidized child care, increasing a tax credit available to working families and expanding programs that offer after-school tutoring or mentoring to struggling students.

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