By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Martin Toe of Manchester came to the State House on Tuesday to talk to legislators about raising the minimum wage as state Senate President Donna Soucy introduced SB 410, her eighth attempt to re-establish and raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage.
The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which is based on the federal minimum wage, just isn’t enough to live on, Toe told InDepthNH.org.
SB 410, which was heard by Senate Commerce on Tuesday, raises the minimum wage to $10 per hour in 2021 and $12 per hour in 2023 – similar to the provisions of SB 10, which was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu last year.
“On New Year’s Day, New Hampshire wages fell even further behind our neighboring states when Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont all raised their minimum wages. New Hampshire is the only state in New England following the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour, and the only New England state with a minimum wage below $10.50/hour,” Soucy said after the hearing.
Senate Republican Leader Chuck Morse, R-Salem, said: “With the strong economy we currently have in New Hampshire, we should not be passing any laws that will slow growth, hurt businesses and increase unemployment in the state.”
Toe is a member of the American Friends Service Committee, which puts Quaker values of peace and justice into action. He said it is wrong for people to have to work three jobs just to make enough to live. Toe was among a dozen people who held signs outside the hearing room.
Increasing the minimum wage would help “our economy to grow” by allowing people to spend more money in the communities where they live and work, Toe said.
Last week, the House passed legislation in House Bill 731 to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour by 2025.
The vote was 212 to 155 and will require more action on the Senate side.
State Rep. Brian Sullivan, D-Grantham, called it a bipartisan vote.
“This is a huge step forward for families and workers in our state,” Sullivan said. On Jan. 1, 21 states saw their minimum wages increase, he said.
House Republican Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack, saw it differently calling it “job-killing legislation.”