Editorial by Rep. Doore:
Minimum wage boost would help workers, their families and our entire economy
In November, voters will decide whether Maine’s low-wage workers will finally get a raise. I say it’s about time.
I believe an honest day’s work deserves an honest day’s pay and that no Mainer working full time should live in poverty. But our minimum wage here in Maine has been stuck at $7.50 an hour since 2009.
Even though the cost of living keeps going up, wages are nowhere close to keeping pace. We have a chance to move Maine’s wage a bit closer to a living wage.
Under the proposal, the minimum wage would go up to $9 next year. It would increase gradually after that – $1 a year until it reaches $12 in 2020 – and then have a cost-of-living adjustment pegged to the federal Consumer Price Index.
These days, a Mainer working full-time for the minimum wage takes home only about $12,300 a year – that’s about $300 a week. No one can support a family on wages like these.
The governor is painting an inaccurate picture of the ballot question and Maine’s low-wage workers.
The fact is that 90 percent of low-wage workers are 20 years old and older.
They include hard-working Mainers in highly skilled positions. They are nursing assistants, preschool teachers and paramedics. They are working seniors who can’t afford to retire. They are working parents struggling to support their children.
A new report – Kids Count – shows that a growing number of Maine children are living in poverty. Forty-eight thousand Maine kids – 19 percent – are growing up poor. Clearly, we are moving in the wrong direction when it comes to the well-being of our kids and what this means for the future of our entire state.
Raising the minimum wage is one thing we can do to get us moving in the right direction. This much-needed boost in the minimum wage would help workers, their families and our entire economy.
More Mainers will be able to climb out of poverty and be able provide their kids with groceries, a roof over their heads and other basics. And putting more money in the pockets of working Mainers benefits the economy by generating millions in additional consumer spending.
What we need is an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few.
But the governor fails to see that. He keeps pushing policies that would hurt everyday Mainers.
Even though many of his fellow Republicans oppose it, the governor keeps trying to sell his income tax plan. It would be a great deal for the wealthy. But getting rid of the income tax would simply shift the burden onto everyday Mainers and put at risk important public services like schools, police, fire protection and road maintenance.
Eliminating the income tax would create a huge hole – one that we could not fill even if we cut off all state funding for public education and higher education.
Who would be left to pick up the rest of the tab?
Property taxpayers like you and me. Working families that are struggling to keep up, let alone put some money aside for their future. Seniors on fixed incomes who are already having a hard time staying in their homes.
It’s time for policies that promote strong communities and a brighter economic future for all of us. I hope you’ll keep that in mind when you weigh in on the minimum wage in November.