News and Commentary

Maine, Bucking National Trend, Considers Lowering Minimum Wage

The state of Maine is bucking the nationwide push to raise the minimum wage as it considers lowering the recent increase the state implemented. On January 1 the minimum wage was raised to $10 an hour, but a bill proposed by Gov. Paul LePage, LD 1757, would lower it by 50 cents in June.

LePage has stated that increasing the wage quickly hurts small businesses, catalyzing reduced hours and job losses. The state’s minimum wage was increased from $7.50 to $9 an hour in 2017.

The bill states it affects the minimum wage by “reducing the minimum wage from $10 per hour to $9.50 per hour beginning June 1, 2018; reducing the amount by which the minimum hourly wage rates are scheduled to increase annually on January 1st from 2019 to 2021 from $1 per year to 50 cents per year, and decreasing from $12 to $11 the minimum hourly wage rate required to be paid in 2021; eliminating the cost-of-living adjustment to the minimum wage; and establishing a training minimum wage for employees 18 years of age or older and under 20 years of age for the first 90 days of employment and a youth minimum wage for employees under 18 years of age.”

LePage has been an outspoken opponent of a hike in the minimum wage for years; in 2016, he said two advocates of a state ballot question to increase the minimum wage should have been jailed because they were guilty of the “attempted murder” of senior citizens, as the increase in the price of goods would push the prices of consumer goods and services beyond the reach of retirees on fixed incomes.