Politician making $185,000 a year first to object to raising the wage for state’s lowest income earners
CONCORD, NH – The NH Senate voted 13-11 on party lines today to kill HB 1403, raising the state minimum wage. Statement from Granite State Progress:
“A Senate Republican making $185,000 a year called the minimum wage bill ‘feel good legislation’ but refused to spend even one day living in the shoes of his constituents who makes less than ten percent of his salary, even when they are working full-time,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress, in reference to Senator Peter Bragdon’s opening remarks. “Senator Bradley chose to use industry talking points instead of rely on economic data, and Senator Sanborn voted against the bill without disclosing the conflict of interest that he pays some of his workers minimum wage.”
“In contrast, several Senate Democrats took the Minimum Wage Challenge to live on minimum wage before voting on this bill. That experience illustrated for them the lack of affordable housing options, the slim budgets, and the constant anxiety that a minimum wage earner lives with every day. Questions about how to put gas in your tank and food on the table become very real when you don’t have a $185,000 golden salary to live on. Minimum wage earners work hard and play by the rules, but Senate Republicans sent a message loud and clear that they don’t care,” Rice Hawkins said.
In an online poll yesterday Granite State Progress asked whether Senate Republicans would table the bill, vote it down immediately, or vote it down after making misleading arguments. Option C won online and in reality. Below is a round-up of key political statements from today’s floor debate:
Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford called the bill “feel good legislation”. Bragdon signed a contract this week for an $185,000 per year job.
Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro said that raising the wage would harm teenagers and entry level workers. In New Hampshire, 72 percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20 years old and have real breadwinner responsibilities. Bradley has previously refused to answer whether he believes in a minimum wage at all.
Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford claimed that raising the minimum wage would harm small businesses, particularly restaurants. Sanborn did not mention that he pays minimum wage to some of his workers at The Draft – nor did he declare a conflict of interest before voting against the bill.
Previously … Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield told the Laconia Citizen he “thinks it’s ‘silly’ to say that someone couldn’t be supported on minimum wage as they can take on multiple jobs.”
In contrast, Senate Democrats spent an hour urging their colleagues to support the bill:
Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord called the legislation “one of the most important issues this session.”
Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget. He told fellow legislators you must “walk a mile in another man’s shoes before you make you decision.” Of the experience he said: “The minimum wage challenge produced such anxiety for me … I was shaken by the experience.”
Sen. David Watters, D-Dover also took the Minimum Wage Challenge this week to try to live on a minimum wage budget. He told fellow legislators:
“Taking the Minimum Wage Challenge this week, it quickly became obvious to me that I couldn’t live and work in Dover without public support for food and housing. The usual amount provided for food is $37.75 a week, so I went to Janetos, a local downtown market where people without transportation can shop at good prices, and, given the kind of community Dover is, everyone feels welcome and accepted. $5.45 a day meant careful meal planning. A loaf of bread, peanut butter, eggs, lots of potatoes and pasta, a can of tomatoes, some cheese, two pieces of chicken, a head of broccoli, carrots, milk, and toiletries. As the funds dwindled, I felt that anxiety of not having enough, putting things back on the shelf, buying by lowest price for a smaller quantity, and seeing that any staple, such as flour, oil, coffee, would mean not enough food for meals. In planning for one peanut butter sandwich a day for lunch, I recalled when I was working in a factory or in construction filling my lunch box with four to six sandwiches, fruit, cookies, milk, and eating every crumb to keep up strength for hard work. There’s just not enough to keep body and soul together …
Everyday experiences become a crisis on minimum wage. I had some surgery this week—would Medicaid have covered the procedure and the $25.00 copay, or would I have had to put it off, try to ignore the problem, and hope for the best? Or when to fill the tank, looking for a gas station with prices a few pennies less, and seeing the $40.13 it cost just to get to work for a week meant 5-1/2 hours of pay. My old car’s due for an oil change, too. Every day becomes an emergency when the tank runs low.”
Video of Sen. Watters participating in the Minimum Wage Challenge grocery shopping trip is below.