Senate kills bill hiking minimum wage to $9 by '16 - The Caledonian-Record - St. Johnsbury, VT
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home : news : regional October 3, 2015

Senate kills bill hiking minimum wage to $9 by '16

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Voting along party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate killed a bill Thursday that would have set the state minimum wage at $8.25 next year and increase it to $9 in 2016.

The Senate voted 13-11 to reject the bill favored by Democrats and Gov. Maggie Hassan, who expressed disappointment with the vote.

"In order to truly accelerate our economic growth, working families and individuals must be confident in their own financial circumstances and able to purchase the goods and services they need," Hassan, a Democrat, said in a statement. "Restoring and increasing New Hampshire's minimum wage would strengthen our economy and support businesses by putting more money in the pockets of their consumers."

House Speaker Terie Norelli said Senate Republicans were out of touch and showed "disrespect and a lack of understanding" of what the wage increase would have meant to workers.

But Bruce Berke, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, praised Republicans for making New Hampshire an attractive place to do business.

"Other states in the region have already or are planning to increase their labor costs. We will be the beneficiaries," said Berke.

Senate Democrats argued people can't live on the current $7.25 hourly minimum without subsidies from government, family or friends.

"The current minimum wage is an unlivable wage," said Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester.

But Republicans countered the bill would cost the state jobs.

"We know this is a job killer. Let's kill this bill and preserve jobs in New Hampshire," said Republican Leader Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro.

The Legislature eliminated the state's minimum wage law in 2011, which means the federal minimum wage is the state's minimum. Lawmakers rejected restoring the state wage last year. Under the bill, increases after 2016 would have been automatic annually based on inflation.

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