State House passes minimum wage increase; Martinez may veto

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By Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A proposal to increase the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour is close to clearing the Legislature but faces trouble if it reaches Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The House approved the bill Friday on 37-32 vote, sending it back to the Senate. The state minimum wage went to $7.50 an hour in 2009. Supporters said the proposed increase would help workers and their families with rising costs of food and other essentials. Opponents warned that the wage increase would hurt businesses and could cause them to reduce jobs.

Only three states — Washington, Oregon and Vermont — have minimum wages higher than $8.50 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. A Martinez spokesman says the governor opposes increasing the rate to $8.50 but would accept $7.80.

Martinez, meanwhile, has vetoed a proposal by the Democratic-controlled Legislature to expand the state's tax incentives for television projects and films. Martinez rejected the measure on Friday and objected that lawmakers had approved only the subsidy for Hollywood rather than making it part of a package of economic development tax incentives she's seeking.

The governor expressed hope the Legislature would approve a broader tax package before they adjourn on Saturday. New Mexico offers a 25 percent refund for certain film and TV production expenses. The vetoed bill would have increased the incentive to 30 percent for a TV show producing at least six episodes in New Mexico, and for film and TV projects using a studio in the state over an extended time.