March 4, 2015
Augusta – On a day when Democrats and the Maine People’s Alliance announced they’re focusing their attention on minimum wage jobs, Rep. Lawrence Lockman of Amherst says legislators should be focused on bringing optimum wage jobs to Maine.
Democrats and members of the left-wing group unveiled the first of many proposals scheduled to be heard this session to hike the minimum wage in Maine. The proposal introduced Wednesday would gradually scale Maine’s minimum wage up to $12 per hour over the next five years, a bill that makes for great soundbites, but is simply shortsighted. The proposal is built on the fictional foundation that Maine’s small businesses are sitting on mountains of spare money but are opting to hoard it all for themselves as opposed to paying their workers a fair wage. In reality, many small business owners are barely keeping their heads above water. Raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour will cause these job creators to reduce their labor costs in order to keep the doors open. That means making tough decisions like reducing the hours of current employees or cutting jobs entirely. It’s this type of legislation that threatens to force Maine’s remaining employers out of the state to more business friendly environments.
“Having the legislature raise the minimum wage is not going to help the people it’s intended to help,” Rep. Lockman said. “Supporters of this proposal seem to be forgetting that someone needs to sign the front of the paychecks before workers can sign the back.”
Rep. Lockman says reducing the cost of energy, lowering the income tax and passing “Right to Work” legislation are critical components to attracting businesses.
“We need to pass common sense policies that attract good paying jobs and we can finally stop arguing about these entry-level jobs and how much they should be paid,” Lockman said.
Beginning in 2002, members of the Maine Legislature have continually passed legislation that has steadily increased the minimum wage in Maine. Over the last 15 years, Maine’s minimum wage has been as much as $1.60 more per hour than the federal minimum wage. During that span, Maine has ranked between 46th and 50th on the Forbes list of “Best States to do Business.”
The proposal introduced in Augusta today is $1.90 per hour higher than the $10.10 per hour proposal that is being debated in Washington D.C.
“No one has ever been lifted out of poverty by the Maine Legislature raising the minimum wage. They have done this 9 times in the last 20 years and we’ve gotten the same result each time. What we need to be focusing on is creating a business climate in Maine that attracts optimum wage jobs,” Rep. Lockman said.