New Mexico has a jobs crisis and Republicans in charge in Santa Fe have a plan to fix it.
In case you missed it, here’s what the governor’s administration and House Republicans rolled out this week in the legislature:
Part 1: “Lower wage costs 30% – This week, one of the craziest Republicans in Santa Fe offered up one of the dumbest bills to fix our jobs crisis. Naturally, it was put on the fast track by GOP leaders.
Rep. Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell) proposed HB200 which would repeal New Mexico’s prevailing wage laws, giving big construction contractors the freedom to pay construction workers much less and sidestep some processes that ensure public building projects are completed on time and on cost to taxpayers.
Sidebar: What is Prevailing Wage? Prevailing wage laws require contractors on public projects to pay everyone doing the same job the same wage being paid on other public projects nearby. It ensures that skilled workers are paid for their quality and keeps shoddy fly-by-night contractors from taking short cuts on quality in public schools, roads and other public projects. Lean more here from nmworkingfamilies.com
And during the House Business and (un)Employment Committee hearing this week, this paycut bill got a big boost when the deputy secretary of the state’s Department of Transportation told legislators that the administration supports this bill because it would allow them to lower wage costs (that means wages for workers) by 30%.
“Currently, how the state prevailing wage statutes are implemented,” Deputy Secretary Gordon Hatch told the House Committee, “we anticipate it increases state construction costs by 3.5% or 30% of labor.”
Here’s the video from last week’s hearing. (jump to 17:27 to hear DOT’s testimony – or use this link to open it right up to that spot in a new window)
Hatch uses some wordsmithing to make his position sound tenable, but here’s what he means: if we pass this bill, we can lower labor costs by 30% on state projects.
It’s not like construction workers have a lot of money to spare. According to the state’s own labor data, 41,000 families depend on construction income and even if they can find full-time work, they make just $817 per week.
Cut those wages by 30% and some of New Mexico’s hardest working families would take a $12,745 pay cut. Could your family afford that?
Part 2: Lower the minimum wage.
HB211, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jason Harper and Sen. Mark Moores, would “invalidate New Mexico’s local minimum wages,” KRQE reports.
It would overturn every local minimum wage and set a new state lower standard for workers – even if they make more now. That’s right: employers could cut the pay of minimum wage workers to meet the state’s new lower wage – and Albuquerque’s mayor says its a good idea.
Here’s the background:
According to economists, Albuquerque’s minimum wage increase in 2012 helped 40,000 workers earn a little more each week. At least 27,000 minimum wage workers were helped when Santa Fe raised implemented its living wage ordinance in 2004. There is no word, yet, on how many Las Cruces workers will benefit from that city’s new increased minimum wage ordinance. Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties also have higher minimum wages than the state.
Last week, Albuquerque’s Mayor Berry told KRQE-TV 13 that he didn’t support raising the city’s minimum wage back in 2012, but he did support this bill to lower it. He’s sure that paying Albuquerqueans less is good for the city, his administration adds.
Number crunchers in the Roundhouse have suggested that at least 100,000 New Mexican families would see a pay cut from lower minimum wage laws like the one proposed.
So what would House Republicans do with the extra money they save on state construction projects and minimum wage salaries in those cities? Give themselves a raise, of course!
Part 3: Give legislators a raise.
HJR3 – sponsored by State Rep. Terry McMillian, a Republican from Doña Ana County, would give legislators a $4.5 million raise on top of the daily pay and mileage they already receive.
And the salary they suggest? About $41,000 – or two-and-a-half times the lowest minimum wage the propose to send workers to and almost exactly what construction workers make now before paycut legislation cuts 30%.
Classy. More for them, less for us.
You already know that ProgressNow brings you legislative coverage you can use (you’re already reading this, right?).
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