On New Hampshire Gov. Sununu’s Veto of $12 by 2022 Minimum Wage Bill

Today, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu rejected a measure that would have gradually increased the state’s minimum wage to $12 by 2022. In response, Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, issued the following statement:

“Gov. Sununu’s veto displays a misinformed and wrongheaded approach to pressing economic issues in New Hampshire. In a statement he released explaining his veto, he contends that only a minute number of workers would have been affected by a higher wage. According to estimates by the Economic Policy Institute, however, approximately 15 percent of workers would have benefitted from a $12 by 2022 minimum wage.

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“Gov. Sununu also references—as a reason for his veto—a discredited study purporting to show that Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance has harmed workers; industry-driven media reports from New York City alluding to job losses; and another discredited study from Montgomery County, Maryland, which attempted to show negative outcomes from a higher minimum wage.

“None of those studies and media reports, however, pass valid expert scrutiny. In fact, the authors of the Seattle study took a very different tone a year after publishing their study, virtually retracting their original findings. Moreover, a recent study by the Center for New York City Affairs and NELP analyzed comprehensive government data, which objectively shows that New York City’s restaurant industry is thriving despite nearly doubling its minimum wage over the past five years. And the Montgomery County study Gov. Sununu cited was labeled ‘junk science’ by economic analysts and did not prevent the Montgomery County Council from adopting a $15 minimum wage.

“Gov. Sununu’s veto puts him at odds with the 79 percent of Granite State residents of all political persuasions and demographic characteristics who support raising the minimum wage to $12—including 80 percent of Independents and 64 percent of Republicans.

“Since the Fight for $15 began, dozens of states, cities, and counties have raised their minimum wage to robust levels of $12 or $15, including neighboring Maine, which will reach a $12 minimum wage in 2020. Stagnating paychecks, rising costs of living, and persistent or climbing poverty are among the reasons that state legislatures and voters across the country have taken action on the minimum wage. Had Gov. Sununu signed the minimum wage bill, New Hampshire would have joined the growing ranks of jurisdictions adopting a higher, more livable wage.

“New Hampshire’s minimum wage of just $7.25 per hour is the lowest among New England states, and on par with the 20 other states in the nation that follow the poverty-level federal minimum wage. As a result, many working families in New Hampshire are struggling. Workers and families throughout New Hampshire face high and ever-increasing costs of living, even in more affordable regions of the state such as Coos, Hillsborough, and Belknap Counties. And as many as one in two families face excessive housing costs of 30 percent or more of total household income. As a result, many have to rely on public insurance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) to make ends meet. Approximately 94,000 Granite State workers and their children are enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP to afford medical care, and 27,000 use food stamps to put food on the table, according to a 2015 study by economists at the University of California. With a $12 minimum wage, many of these workers would be able to better afford the basics.

“The National Employment Law Project commends New Hampshire lawmakers who pushed the $12 minimum wage bill forward earlier this year, and encourages advocates to continue their hard work in 2020.”

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