Bill Would Raise Maine’s Minimum Wage
State lawmakers are considering two bills that would raise Maine’s minimum wage. The first bill one would hike minimum wage to $7.75 an hour by October, then to $8.00 a year later.The second bill could increase the wage annually based on inflation without lawmaker approval.Those in favor say Mainers earning the current minimum don’t have enough to live on. “In the past year the price of milk and bread and rent has gone up slightly,” says the bills sponsor, Democrat Michael Carey of Lewiston. “But the wage people earn to buy those things has not gone up. That doesn’t make any sense at all. That’s why this bill is here.” Opponents, like Ed Hodgdon of Funtown Splashtown U.S.A., say it could deter employers from hiring and would be unfair to seasonal businesses that mostly hire teens. “The way the bill is being presented that we have to create or have a liveable wage for people. Whereas when you’re employing a teenager they’re not looking for that liveable wage they’re just looking for a job that would pay them a wage.”Some opponents are asking lawmakers to consider adopting the federal minimum youth wage. Young people would work at a reduced rate for 90 days and then would get a raise to a higher wage. Maine’s minimum wage is now $7.50 an hour, which is 25 cents an hour higher than the federal minimum wage.