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March 26, 2007
Two States Raise Minimum Wage

Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher has signed legislation that will raise the state's minimum wage to $7.25 over a period of two years. In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson signed legislation that will increase that state's minimum wage to $7.50 per hour over the next two years.

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Kentucky's minimum wage will increase from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour beginning July 1, 2007. Beginning July 1, 2008, the minimum wage will rise to $6.55 per hour. The minimum wage will move to $7.25 beginning July, 1, 2009.

If the U.S Congress raises the federal minimum wage above Kentucky 's minimum wage, the legislation provides that Kentucky's minimum hourly wage will be increased simultaneously to the same amount.

New Mexico's minimum wage will rise from $5.15 per hour to $6.50 per hour effective January 1, 2008. On January 1, 2009, the minimum wage will increase to $7.50 per hour.

Under the legislation in New Mexico, several occupations are exempt from the minimum wage provisions, including those "principally engaged in the range production of livestock or in milk production" and those "engaged in the handling, drying, packing, packaging, processing, freezing or canning of any agricultural or horticultural commodity in its unmanufactured state."

Kentucky and New Mexico join 29 other states that have approved minimum wages above the federal level. Ten states have minimum wage laws that tie future increases to inflation.

Democrats in Congress have vowed to raise the federal minimum wage. Both chambers of Congress have approved legislation that would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per over a period of 26 months. However, lawmakers have yet to iron out differences (in the form of tax cuts for small businesses) between the two bills.

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