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N.M. minimum wage rises to $6.50 per hour

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By Ralph Damiani

We are not a proponent of governmental interference in our lives. But there are times when for the general health and safety of society, government has a real role.

The boost in the minimum wage is one such area.It is hard to believe that anyone thinks you can live on $6.50 an hour – let alone $5.15. But that is the case.So about 160,000 of New Mexico's lowest paid workers will get a boost as the new state minimum wage of $6.50 an hour went into effect New Year's Day.The wage will then go to $7.50 in January 2009.The state minimum will overlap with federal increases that started last summer, but the federal minimum wage will peak at $7.25 per hour in the summer of 2009, which will be below the state's minimum.The new wage does not affect higher minimum wages already set in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.Of course, some businesses said they will have to raise prices or cut-back somewhere to make up the difference. But that should only be short term.The hikes in Santa Fe and Albuquerque did not seem to have a real dampening effect.Yes, it will make some businesses tighten up but long-term, it should not make a huge difference.We hope this impacts few businesses as we hope most are paying more than the minimum.People deserve the chance to live a decent life. And it starts with one’s paycheck.This hike is well deserved and long overdue.