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The Latest: New Mexico Senate endorses $11 minimum wage

March 9, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on proposals to raise the minimum wage in New Mexico (all times local):

9:50 p.m.

The New Mexico state Senate has endorsed an increase in the statewide minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $11 over the course of three years.

The 27-15 vote of the Senate on Friday sends the bill to the Democrat-led House for consideration. The House has approved a larger gradual increase to $12 with automated future increases tied to inflation.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned successfully last year on pledges to seek a $12 minimum wage. She is seeking a $12 minimum for state workers starting in July.

The Senate-approved bill from Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez provides for a separate $8.50 minimum wage for high school students and a slight increase in base pay to $.250 for workers who receive tips, such as restaurant wait staff.

Republican senators called the proposed increases too much for locally owned businesses in rural New Mexico to withstand. Democrats voted in unison with one Republican to pass the bill, though some of those lawmakers favored more generous terms for workers.

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9:00 p.m.

The state Senate is deliberating a proposal to raise the state’s statewide minimum wage gradually from $7.50 an hour to $11 over the next three years without additional increases.

The Senate on Friday began debate of the bill from Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants.

Senate approval could set up a showdown with the House of Representatives. A House-approved bill for a phased-in $12 minimum wage with automatic future increases tied to inflation was sidelined in the Senate.

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf on Thursday said Sanchez’s proposal would likely be amended if it reaches the House. He says future cost-of-living increases are essential and that New Mexico’s minimum wage should be competitive with Arizona, where the $11.50 minimum rises to $12 in 2020 with automated future increases.