The New Mexico Legislature is kicking around a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage.
Tell us again why the government is involved in a decision that should be left up to business owners and the workforce?
The Legislature should butt out.
But legislative Democrats — led by the co-authors of the bill in the state Senate, Richard Martinez of Espanola and William Soules of Las Cruces — want to boost the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour. That would give New Mexico one of the highest minimum wage rates in the country.
The state’s current minimum wage rate of $7.50 already is 25 cents greater than the federal rate. Only Oregon, Vermont and Washington require employers to pay more per hour than New Mexico.
Business groups are planning to mount a campaign to stop this meddlesome legislation, as they should.
The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce is among those opposing this threat to employment.
“We believe that increasing the minimum wage only hurts the people that the legislators are trying to help,” said Terri Cole, the chamber’s president and CEO. Cole added that a greater pay requirement could force businesses to cut jobs and benefits while increasing the cost of their products.
A free market determines what’s a “fair” wage, not government. Workers who don’t think $7.50 an hour is enough will offer their services elsewhere. Employers who can’t fill positions for $7.50 will soon raise their pay if they want to remain in business.
The final call well might rest with Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, whose office so far has been silent on the merits of the proposed legislation, which is a key element of Democratic lawmakers’ agenda for the 60-day legislative session.
Martinez does have the authority to veto the legislation if it gets to her desk.
Gov. Martinez should exercise her veto authority for the sake of business owners who would do better if government would stay off their backs.
This business decision should rest solely with business owners and those they’d like to employ.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.