Maine’s largest daily newspapers have endorsed Question 4, the referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage. The Bangor Daily News has joined the Portland Press Herald, Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel (which endorsed jointly) in backing the initiative, with the Bangor Daily News editorial board calling it “something Maine can do in the short term, without hurting the economy, to start putting more money into the pockets of people who work hard and still have a tough time escaping poverty.”
“A wage increase means they will be better able to afford food, school supplies, stable housing and health care, the building blocks for healthy and productive lives,” wrote the Press Herald editorial board “They will undeniably be better off, as will the businesses that benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending.”
If passed, Question 4 will increase the minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 in 2017 and then by a dollar each year until it reaches $12 in 2020, with cost of living increases after that. It will also increase the subminimum wage for service workers who receive tips from $3.75 to $5 in 2017 and then by a dollar each year until it reaches the minimum wage.
The newspapers specifically addressed and endorsed the increase in the subminimum wage, with the Bangor Daily News explaining that it “would amount to more predictable and likely more pay for most servers in Maine” and noting that restaurant employment growth is strong in the seven states without a subminimum tipped wage.
“It is clear to us that a strong minimum wage is necessary to give Americans working in what has become a service economy the pay they need to build a life for themselves and their families,” wrote the Press Herald, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel.
The Lewiston Sun Journal, Maine’s other large-circulation daily, will not be making endorsements on the referendum questions this year.
The newspapers join a long list of endorsers of Question 4, including the Maine Small Business Coalition, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Children’s Alliance, Maine Women’s Lobby, Alliance for Retired Americans, Maine AFL-CIO, Maine Center for Economic Policy and dozens of other community and membership organizations.
This post originally appeared in the Maine Beacon.