Minimum wage bill may be a long shot

Posted at: 03/12/2013 5:34 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Supporters of an increase in New Mexico's minimum wage are down to one last shot in the closing days of the legislative session - and it may be a long shot at best. 

They are up against the clock as it ticks toward the end of the session at noon on Saturday, and they're up against organized opposition from much of the state's business community - people who call the bill a job-killer.
The House of Representatives could vote the bill up or down tonight. It's the last minimum wage bill still surviving. It would bump the wage from $7.50 an hour to $8.50. About 70,000 New Mexico workers would be affected.
Rep. Miguel Garcia sponsored two other minimum wage bills that got shot down earlier in the session.
" Naturally, that is the last hope in terms of any minimum wage initiative that has made it this far in the process,"  the South Valley democrat said. " So this will be our last at bat."
The bill passed in the state Senate, but a House Committee made minor changes. If the House passes the bill, it would then have to go back to the Senate to see if agreement is possible. It's the old Capitol Two-Step - a dangerous dance when time is running out.
House Republicans may have enough Democrat votes to defeat the bill.
" When you look at all the businesses that are going out of business you have to realize that small business is the backbone of New Mexico's economy," said Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert, a Corrales Republican. " We need to leave that up to the employer to make that call on salary increases."
Whether it happens tonight or tomorrow, debate on the minimum wage bill is expected to take a good two or three hours in the House - devouring precious time as the session slips toward the Saturday deadline.