AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- The state's minimum wage will increase to $9 by 2016 under a bill that was given preliminary approval in the Maine House on Wednesday, with further increases linked to inflation. Additional votes were necessary.
"We should ensure that when Mainers put in an honest day's work, they are rewarded with an honest paycheck that puts food on the table, clothes on their backs and fuel in the oil tank," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Scott Hamann, D-South Portland. "We need to get Mainers closer to earning a living wage."
Maine, where the current minimum wage is $7.50 per hour, is one of more than a dozen states that have minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum of $7.25.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who's on vacation, hasn't announced a position on the bill but House Republicans denounced the bill as a feel-good measure that hurts businesses.
"We need to set aside emotion and look at the data if we really want to move Maine's economy forward," said House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport.
The House voted 86-58 along party lines. The bill faces additional votes in the House and Senate.