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Portland minimum wage hike could pave the way for Bangor to follow

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“The people who work at minimum wage or near minimum wage, they are not asking for a handout,” Baldacci said. “There’s not a better issue that says that we want to reward work over welfare than raising the minimum wage.”

From a BDN article: Baldacci: Portland minimum wage hike could pressure Bangor to follow. Please go HERE for the full article.

If Portland increases its minimum wage and Bangor doesn’t follow suit, young workers could leave the state’s most youthful city in search of higher pay, Bangor city councilor Joe Baldacci said Friday.

“If Portland passes whatever increase they pass, I do think that puts pressure on Bangor to also increase (wages), because young workers are going to be attracted to where wages are decent,” Baldacci said. The median age of Bangor residents is 35.5 years, the youngest among municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more in the state, according to the American Community Survey of 2008-2012.

Baldacci is the architect of a proposal to increase the minimum wage in Bangor to $8.25 per hour in 2016, $9 per hour in 2017 and $9.75 in 2018, after which time the local minimum wage would adjust annually with inflation.

The current minimum wage in Bangor and all of Maine is $7.50 per hour while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator estimates $8.69 per hours is the minimum needed to make ends meet in Bangor, $3.48 per hour above the local poverty wage.

Baldacci’s comment comes in the wake of a Portland finance committee decision Thursday night recommending the Portland City Council increase the minimum wage there to $8.75 per hour with further wage hikes to follow.

It also comes in the shadow of a possible citizen-initiated referendum to increase the minimum wage statewide to $9 per hour in 2017 with annual increases following until the minimum wage reaches $12 per hour in 2020.

Baldacci on Friday said proposals such as Bangor’s and Portland’s put pressure on the state to increase the minimum wage, which has remained stagnant for nearly six years.

After an unsanctioned forum last week, in which he attempted to bolster support for his proposal, Baldacci said Friday he is serious about increasing the minimum wage locally and will bring the matter to the full council.

He said he would approach Council Chairman Nelson Durgin soon in hopes of scheduling a city council workshop to discuss the issue hopefully within four or five weeks.

That proposal comes after the council heard advice from legal counsel in February that issues of statewide interest, such as the minimum wage, should typically be discussed by the full council before a public forum.

Baldacci said he is hopeful a city council workshop will allow for discussion as well as public comment from supporters and opponents of his proposal.

Asked in February about Baldacci’s proposal, not all councilors were convinced it was the best option…

“The people who work at minimum wage or near minimum wage, they are not asking for a handout,” Baldacci said. “There’s not a better issue that says that we want to reward work over welfare than raising the minimum wage.”

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