SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico state Senate endorsed Friday an increase to the statewide minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $11 over the next three years without additional raises.
The bill from Democratic Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants advanced on a 27-15 vote to the House for consideration and a possible showdown. It would be the first increase in roughly a decade.
The House has approved a larger increase to $12 an hour — with automated future increases tied to inflation — that was shunned by the Senate.
Sanchez said his proposal is reasonable and that he consulted with numerous businesses in arriving at the gradual increase to $11 an hour. His bill also would establish a separate minimum wage for high school students of $8.50 an hour.
The wage for tipped employees would increase from $2.13 per hour to $2.50 by April 2020. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure tips and salary meet the full state minimum wage, though some legislators says the system is prone to providing insufficient pay.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham campaigned successfully last year on pledges to seek a $12 minimum wage.
Senate Republicans said the increases are out of touch with the economy of rural New Mexico and would bankrupt small businesses.
“We’re not going to run McDonald’s out of the state,” said GOP Sen. Bill Sharer of Farmington. “But we might run ‘Hometown Hamburger’ out of business.”
Major municipalities and counties in New Mexico have instituted their own minimum wages, topping out at $11.40 an hour in Santa Fe.