Mar 16, 2017 11:51 AM
Bill to raise NH's minimum wage shot down again at Statehouse
CONCORD – Supporters of raising New Hampshire’s minimum wage suffered another defeat on Thursday, as the state Senate voted down a bill that would have upped the rate to $12 per hour by late next year.
In a party-line 14-9 vote, the Senate supported the Commerce Committee’s recommendation not to pass the legislation. The vote was along party lines, with all 14 Republicans voting against raising the state’s minimum wage. All nine Democrats present in the chamber supported the measure. Democratic Sen. Scott McGilvray was excused from the session.
New Hampshire currently doesn’t have a state minimum wage and instead defaults to the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. Nineteen states across the country began the year with higher minimum wages.
The bill, formally known as SB83, would have set a minimum wage of $8.50 per hour and increase the rate to $12 per hour by September of 2018.
Seven of the chamber’s ten Democrats spoke out in favor of the bill.
Sen. Donna Soucy, of Manchester, prime sponsor of the measure, argued it was “a moral imperative.”
And she said that families can’t live on the current wage, which averages out to a salary of around $15,000 per year.
Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, in a fiery speech in support of raising the wage, said that “everybody deserves human dignity.”
Responding to Woodburn, Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said, “I would say to my friend from the north country ... the greatest dignity we can give to somebody is a good job.”
And Bradley predicted that raising the wage too quickly would cause “a lot of hard working” people in the state “to lose their jobs.”
“That’s what’s happened in other states,” he added.
Republican Sen. Dan Innis of the Seacoast compared upping the wage to a drug that feels good at first but has bad consequences in the long run.
"Feels good now, but over long term will hurt business,” Innis said.
Earlier this month in the state House of Representatives, a bill to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 in January and $12 by 2019 was also downed, by a 193-163 vote.
In 2011, when the GOP controlled both chambers by larger margins than they currently hold, the legislature repealed the state’s minimum wage. Efforts since then to re-establish a state rate have been repeatedly defeated.