It’s official: Maine will vote on raising the minimum wage

Mainers will soon have a chance to weigh in on raising the minimum wage. The office of the Secretary of State announced yesterday that the Mainers for Fair Wages campaign has succeeded in gathering 75,275 signatures, far more than the 61,123 needed to place the measure on the November General Election ballot.

“Raising the minimum wage means improving the lives of more than one hundred and thirty thousand Mainers who are working hard, spending countless hours away from their families, frequently at more than one job, and still can’t make ends meet,” said Mainers for Fair Wages campaign manager Amy Halsted. “This campaign is about helping single mothers raising children, and helping seniors who can’t afford to retire. It’s about creating a level playing field for local, small businesses and boosting the state economy by making sure Mainers who work hard aren’t earning poverty wages.”

If voters approve the initiative, Maine’s minimum wage will increase to $9 an hour in 2017 and then a dollar each year until it reaches $12 in 2020. It will then increase with the cost of living. The sub-minimum wage for tipped workers will also increase on a gradual basis until it reaches the full minimum wage after 2024.

The Mainers for Fair Wages coalition includes the Maine AFL-CIO, the Maine Small Business Coalition, the Maine People’s Alliance, and other groups supporting Maine workers, families and communities.

“Maine’s small business owners want to see working Mainers have enough money in their pockets to make ends meet,” said Will Ikard, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, after the certification was announced. “When low-income workers make a little more, they spend it locally at our stores and businesses. Raising the minimum wage means Maine’s working people do better, Maine’s small businesses do better, and Maine’s communities thrive. That’s why hundreds of Maine business owners support this referendum.”

The signature goal was reached through the help of hundreds of volunteers who circulated petitions and thousands of individual donors who have so far contributed to raising $325,000 for the campaign, with an average contribution of just $35.

“We’re looking forward to building on the grassroots movement that made this milestone possible and continuing a strong, engaging campaign through to November,” said Halsted.

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