Last week, Governor Paul LePage told the Bangor Daily News that he hadn’t yet decided whether to sign or veto the minimum wage increase passed by the Maine House and Senate. He told the Portland Press Herald the same thing, and that he would consider and review the bill once it came to his desk.
LePage had a very different message for an audience at a Skowhegan Chamber event on Tuesday where no media was present, an audio recording of his remarks reveals.
“I’ve got a bill – they haven’t sent it down to me, but I understand that while I was away last week, they passed a minimum wage bill. I don’t know why they’re not sending it to me, because they know what’s going to happen,” said LePage to laughter and applause. “Let me tell you this. When you’re the fifth worst place to do business and you turn around and insist on having the highest minimum wage in the country, what does that say? What kind of message are we sending to the potential investors?”
Far from considering the minimum wage bill, LePage makes it clear that he has already made a decision and makes a joke of the idea that he would even consider the increase, which would raise Maine’s minimum wage in stages to $9 an hour in 2016 and then index it to inflation.
LePage also, as is often the case, gets his facts wrong. Even if no other jurisdictions increased their minimum wages over the next three years, Maine would still be at or behind the minimum wages of at least four other states in 2016: Vermont, Washington, New York and Oregon. Washington currently leads the nation with a $9.19 minimum wage that increases each year with the Consumer Price Index.