AUGUSTA – Lawmakers at the capital spent all morning Monday debating possible changes to the statewide minimum wage.
Multiple bills were proposed to alter minimum wage.
Some lawmakers proposed bills to increase statewide minimum wage up to $15 an hour, while some other lawmakers proposed bills that would decrease minimum wage back to $10 an hour.
One bill that Representative Benjamin Collings (D – Portland) proposed would raise minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023 for any business with 50 or more employees.
“There’s so many very large corporations making billions of dollars such as Walmart, Hannaford, others that aren’t really paying their workers that much. And a lot of workers that work for these huge companies that are making billions of dollars, the workers are making such little money that they are on public assistance,” Representative Collings said.
Supporters of the bill say it wouldn’t change anything for smaller businesses.
It would go into effect after the minimum wage increases to $12 an hour next year.
But other lawmakers disagree with that proposal, stating that situations are different depending on town size and location.
“Being from Aroostook County, you have such limited resources there’s only so many people in the area to shop at your stories. By adding such a large minimum wage it makes it so you have to pass the price over to the consumer, ” Representative Dustin White (R – Washburn) said.
Representative Collings says his proposal avoids that problem because it’s aimed at large businesses.
He states the increase is necessary because of the current cost of living.
“The wage has been so low for so long that it’s has caused this catastrophe when we need to raise it up so workers can survive and not be in poverty and get government resources. People scramble because it’s a big jump for them, ” Representative Collings said.