Commentary: Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-2) continues to fight for increased prosperity for rural New Mexicans and remains supportive of increasing the federal minimum wage. However, she does not support the “one-size-fits-all” approach taken by H.R. 582, The Raise the Wage Act. This bill failed to consider the regional differences in cost of living, and a nonpartisan CBO study concluded that this bill would cost 1.3 million job losses.
“It’s time for the federal minimum age to be raised, but in a way that considers the unique factors of each region’s economy. What works in places like New York City or Seattle doesn’t always work in more rural areas like the ones I represent,” said Torres Small.
Torres Small is supportive of legislation that calculate a new federal wage floor based on the regional cost of living and purchasing power. Additionally, she preferred an approach that gave small businesses’ more leeway to adjust to increased costs with a tiered system that distinguishes between high school age employees 18 years and younger and those supporting a family with their wages.
Independent business owners shared similar sentiments.
“There are winners and losers within every piece of legislation, and the losers in this bill are small, locally-owned businesses. In this industry, your frontline is tipped employees, and this bill will ensure that tips will be a thing of the past. I’m not against an increase in minimum wage, but $15 an hour will hurt those it is intended to help forcing people like me out of existence and costing jobs,” said Steve Brockett, owner-operator of Pancake Shoppe in Alamogordo.
“Though I believe the Federal Minimum Wage needs to be increased, I also believe that a comprehensive approach needs to be taken. New Mexico took a common-sense approach to raising its minimum wage, creating a sector for tipped employees, employees under the age of 18 and then a wage for all others. As a small business owner, I agree with an increase to minimum wage that does not create immediate inflation, that allows me to continue to employee people offering them the same amount of hours as they would normally be scheduled, recognizes different sectors of my labor needs, and does not cause detriment to my ability to operate my business,” said Paul Baca, owner of Long John Silver’s/A&W-Young Baca’s Kicks 66 in Belen.
“We need to invest in our Small Businesses with responsible minimum wage increases that support them, an increase to $15 is not responsible. I want to thank Congresswoman Xochitl Torres-Small for listening to those closest to the action by looking out for small businesses, such as the small local restaurants like mine, as well as the workforce that drives the economy here in New Mexico," said Russell Hernandez, Owner/CEO of Salud! De Mesilla in Las Cruces.
“It is hard for me to argue against an increase in minimum wage. I, like most in favor of this bill, believe that fair wages and healthy work environments are crucial for communities to thrive. However, as an owner of a micro-business and an employer, this bill, as written, would increase my payroll by 50% - an amount that would be unsustainable for any period of time. A blanket plan like this, though we understand the idea behind it, would have a catastrophic impact on the businesses we need to be supporting,” said Arianna Parsons, owner of Beck’s Coffee in Las Cruces.