Sununu: Minimum wage problems would be exacerbated in pandemic

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday vetoed a bill that would have raised New Hampshire’s minimum wage, saying it creates negative unintended consequences that are only “exacerbated” by the economic situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sununu said in his veto message that a law can force an employer to pay a minimum wage, but it cannot force an employer to hire or retain a worker at that wage, or to continue offering the same number of hours to that worker.

“This bill would have meant fewer jobs and fewer available hours for our workers who are unemployed or underemployed. It would mean our employers who are fighting for survival would have one more burden placed on their backs as they try to recover,” he said in a statement.

“In our current economic environment, the greatest burden would fall squarely on entry-level workers, who need job skills to advance in their careers. Raising the minimum wage would create a barrier for these new workers, as well as those re-entering the job market from the criminal justice system at a time when unemployment remains high,” Sununu said.

The bill would have raised the wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour in 2021 and $12 in 2023. Sununu vetoed a similar bill last year.

Senate President Donna Soucy, a Democrat from Manchester, called the veto a disappointment, pointing out that neighboring states all have a minimum wage of $10.

“This disparity continues to drive away the workers we so desperately need,” she said in a statement.

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