Council not expected to undo minimum wage increase

Posted at: 11/12/2012 6:11 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News

Attempts to undo the minimum wage increase approved by Albuquerque voters last week appear to be dead on arrival.

City voters, in overwhelming numbers, said "yes" last week to raising the minimum wage, and while the City Council does have the power to overturn the vote, don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

Sixty-six percent of city voters approved a raise in the minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.50. The Council has the power to repeal or change it. But, rejecting the voters is like swallowing political poison and most councilors seem to know that.

"I would hope that the councilors, after listening to the voters in this community, 66 percent of them said they wanted the minimum wage raised," said Councilor Ken Sanchez, who represents much of Albuquerque's West Side. "I would hope they would respect the wishes and the will of the people of the city."

Another probable roadblock: the Mayor of Albuquerque would have to sign off on it, and Richard Berry, appearing on Sunday morning's "Eye on New Mexico" program, did not sound like a man who's ready to do that.

"I think it was well-intentioned," Mayor Berry said. "I think the voters of Albuquerque want their brothers and sisters to do well, so it passed, and once again our boss said 'yes' so we move forward."

Berry initially opposed the increase, saying it would hurt small businesses and reduce jobs and work.

What may stop the pay raise from going into effect in 2013 is faulty language in the ballot proposition. Election watchers say It could turn out to be fertile territory for a legal challenge.