Kevin Landrigan: Raising the minimum wage could be tall task through Legislature
Governor Maggie Hassan forcefully laid down her marker in last month's inaugural address.
"For too long, wages have failed to grow with he cost of our families' needs. Our path forward must strengthen wages for our workers by restoring and increasing New Hampshire's minimum wage,'' Hassan said on Jan. 8.
Today began the uphill battle to change things. Four different bills to raise the state's minimum wage from tied with 31 states for the lowest in the country. One would raise it to the nation's highest, $16 an hour.
"Getting to a livable wage should address both Republican and liberal concerns, Democratic concerns. We both want to see more people moved off the need for public assistance,'' said Rep. Jackie Cilley, D-Barrington, a leading minimum wage advocate.
Take a look at the depressing turnout as the advocates for these bills were almost outnumbered by the 21 committee members receiving the testimony.
The House's top Republican says those pushing it have a talking point not a solution for the state's sluggish economic recovery.
"The underemployed or long-term unemployed. Those numbers are 60,000 plus. So our friends and neighbors who are struggling, those are the ones we need jobs for. Minimum wage doesn't solve the problem,'' said House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan
Republicans in 2011 repealed the state's own minimum and advocates for change have been playing catch up ever since.
Two years ago these similar bills had 200 people packed into the State House. Today? A little over 20. Why? Republicans are now in control of the Legislature and minimum wage bills are going to get minimum not maximum votes in the State Senate.