Posted October 05, 2018 04:18:00 Gov.
Paul LePage has signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage statewide, with the goal of creating a $15 per hour minimum in all of Maine by 2024.
The bill, which passed the Senate in a 25-10 vote, now heads to LePage’s desk for a final vote in the House.
LePage said Wednesday the wage increase would bring in about $6 million in new revenue over the next decade.
The minimum wage has been a major issue in the state since the state was first hit with a wave of automation and globalization in the 1990s.
Maine’s unemployment rate stood at 5.6 percent in 2016.
LePage said the bill was aimed at helping workers, and he pointed to a new job market created by the wage hike.
“Our economic recovery has been tremendous, but the job market hasn’t been great, but we’ve been able to get the paychecks for our people and we’re going to keep doing that,” he said.
The governor also made the case for a $1 billion infrastructure investment in the coming years, which he said would be a huge boost to the state economy.
“The most important thing is that we continue to get these people back to work and we keep this economy moving forward,” he added.
The wage hike would be the largest in Maine history.
In recent years, the state has raised the minimum hourly wage from $8.25 to $10.25, and the state’s unemployment is at about 5 percent.
LePors office has been busy lobbying lawmakers to support the bill.
He said the legislation would create jobs for people, boost the economy and make the state a more attractive place for businesses.
“I’m very confident that if we get the job done, the economy is going to be stronger,” he told reporters.
“I want to see this done quickly.”
LePage and Senate President Mike Thibodeau, a Republican, have worked on the bill for months, with LePage visiting legislators from Maine and Washington state in recent weeks.
The Senate voted to pass the bill in January, and LePage signed it into law on Wednesday.
The House approved it last month, but it has been stalled in the Legislature since LePage took office in January.