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Maine Minimum Wage: Competing Versions Duke It Out

Competing minimum-wage proposals have been vying for position, but supporters of raising Maine's minimum wage to $9 by 2017 say they have the votes to get it onto the November ballot. (Mainers for Fair Wages)
Competing minimum-wage proposals have been vying for position, but supporters of raising Maine's minimum wage to $9 by 2017 say they have the votes to get it onto the November ballot. (Mainers for Fair Wages)
March 22, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine - It would raise the minimum wage in Maine to $9 an hour by 2017, and supporters of the ballot initiative now say they are optimistic voters will have their say in November.

Opponents of the measure attempted to send it to a dead end in committee last week, but Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO says the House handily defeated that tactic.

While some in the state Senate still want to alter or kill the minimum-wage initiative, Schlobohm says they won't have the votes to get it through the House.

"You know, it'll go to the Senate for a vote; Republicans are trying a few other procedural mechanisms," says Schlobohm. "But the House of Representatives spoke very soundly - any bill would have to go through them to get out, and it seems very clear they want to respect the will of the voters."

If the measure is approved by voters, the minimum wage would increase by $1 an hour each year, from $9 in 2017 to $12 an hour in 2020.

Opponents are offering a counter measure which they say would give voters a "modest choice," raising the wage to $10 an hour by 2020.

When opponents call the choice "modest," Schlobohm says they're not revealing the true purpose of their alternative proposal.

"That is clearly designed to derail and delay a very popular and strong minimum-wage ballot initiative," he says. "The reason citizens took this to ballot is because for the last nine years, every single round, corporate lobbyists have opposed minimum-wage increases."

In addition to local labor unions, the ballot initiative is supported by the Maine People's Alliance and is opposed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME