Fight marches on over minimum wage

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By Sherry Robinson

The last time New Mexico raised its minimum wage, in 2007, then Governor Bill Richardson had just announced his candidacy for president. Getting a bill to his desk still wasn’t guaranteed; the House and Senate leadership deadlocked on a bill the year before and were again eyeball to eyeball. Gov. Bill Richardson told them to stop “dillydallying” and elbowed them into a compromise.
He made it clear he wanted that bill. Christine Trujillo, of the American Federation of Teachers-New Mexico, said: “There must be certain groups of people who are children of a lesser God. How can we justify dooming children to poverty?”
When it passed, raising the minimum from $5.15 to $7.50 an hour over two years, New Mexico jumped to ninth place nationally. But it wasn’t as drastic as a rival bill, which would have built in a cost-of-living increase indexed to inflation.
Six short years later, we have another governor with her eye (or her political consultant’s eye) on national office, and Christine Trujillo is a freshman legislator. This year’s proposal, to raise the minimum from $7.50 to $8.50 an hour would have made New Mexico’s minimum fourth highest in the nation, which was not acceptable to Gov. Susana Martinez.

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