Five blatant lies Gov. LePage told about the minimum wage during his State of the State
Governor Paul LePage spent a significant portion of his annual State of the State address on Tuesday night re-fighting a battle he already lost. He took aim at the minimum wage increase referendum passed by a wide margin by voters in November and urged lawmakers to cut wages. As part of this broadside, LePage told a number of blatant falsehoods about the new law. Here’s the truth:
The law is one page long, not 32.
“Mainers did not read the 32 pages of legal jargon behind the ballot question,” claimed LePage. This is a lie the governor has also repeated at town hall meetings and shows he hasn’t actually read the law. The policy on the ballot was clearly drafted and ran about one typed page.
Tipping is as high or higher in states with higher minimum wages.
LePage claimed that gradually raising the subminimum wage for restaurant servers and tipped workers over the next decade “will end tipping as we know it.” This isn’t true in any of the states with higher subminimum wages. In fact, the seven states with one fair minimum wage for all workers have the same or higher rates of tipping as the rest of the country. Wherever the minimum wage for tipped workers has been raised, restaurant servers (who make a median income of $9.06 in Maine at the moment) have made more.
Mainers understood the ballot question, and approved it overwhelmingly.
LePage repeatedly claimed that voters were confused or didn’t know what they were voting for. In fact, the question on the ballot spelled out in detail the exact timing and amounts of the increases to the minimum and subminimum wages. The measure saw wide support across the state, with more votes in favor than any citizen initiative in Maine history. More voters chose to vote on the minimum wage than cast ballots for president.
Economists agree the minimum wage increase will be beneficial.
LePage claimed several times that raising the minimum wage would lead to increased prices and damage Maine’s economy. At one point he claimed that “This is not about economics, it is about a socialist ideology.” In fact, even the world-renowned economic experts specifically cited by Maine minimum wage opponents agree that Maine’s minimum wage law will increase local spending and have beneficial economic effects, without leading to significant job loss or price increases.
The minimum wage should be enough to survive on.
LePage claimed multiple times that “the minimum wage was always intended to be starter wage” and not something to live on. In fact, from its very beginning, the minimum wage was intended to make sure that people who worked hard, full-time had at least enough to scrape by.
As President Roosevelt said as he signed the first minimum wage into law, “No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By ‘business’ I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.”
Video still via Maine Public.
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