MANCHESTER, N.H. – Several Democratic candidates and elected leaders gathered at Arms Park on Tuesday morning to denounce New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of a minimum wage increase bill one day before that veto could potentially be overridden.
The bill, co-sponsored by nine Democrats including one from Manchester, would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour in 2021 and $12 an hour in 2023. Currently New Hampshire is the only state in New England without a minimum wage law.
Sununu vetoed the bill on July 24, stating that workers have reduced take-home pay through reduced hours or eliminated jobs when the minimum wage is increased.
New Hampshire State Senate President Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) felt that fear was unrealistic, stating that businesses are currently struggling to hire entry-level labor and increasing the minimum wage would help New Hampshire’s most economically vulnerable families.
“I don’t think it would create job suppression in any way,” said Soucy. “If anything it would certainly enhance the capabilities of New Hampshire families put more money back into the New Hampshire economy, which would only help everyone.”
Soucy, who said she has sponsored a minimum-wage increase bill each year during her time in the Senate, also noted that businesses that pay minimum wage rates or near-minimum wage rates abrogate their responsibility for taking care of workers to state-funded welfare programs such as free or reduced lunch eligibility for those workers’ children.
District 4 Executive Council Democratic Nominee Mark McKenzie felt it was unlikely that any workers in New Hampshire were paid $7.25 an hour, but agreed with Soucy’s questioning of Sununu’s opinion.
“I have studied the minimum wage for a number of years. I have heard over and over and over again how it’s going to impact employees and cause job loss,” said MacKenzie. “What I say to Republicans who take that position is put your evidence on the table. The evidence does not point in that direction, the evidence points to just the opposite, that when you give money to minimum wage workers they put that money back into the economy.”
Soucy, along with MacKenzie, State Representative Joshua Query (D-Manchester Ward 9) and State Representative Patricia Cornell (D-Manchester Ward 11) praised Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Dan Feltes as a champion of working families for his support of a raised minimum wage. They also criticized Sununu as an ally of Donald Trump, indicating that both Trump and Sununu were out-of-touch with the struggles faced by low-wage workers.
There was also criticism of a $31,000 pay raise given to Sununu during his time in office, but the pay rate of the governor and other state officers is mandated by state law. Sununu’s three immediate predecessors did not accept a full salary.
The press conference was a first stop on the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s statewide Veto Sununu Tour, which looks to highlight Sununu’s 86 vetoes and how they fit into President Trump’s governing philosophy.
On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Democratic Party also announced their “Sununu Lie Detector Team” initiative, a fact-checking group that includes three members from Manchester: Query, former New Hampshire Democratic Party Finance Director Colin Pio, Former New Hampshire Democratic Party Executive Director Sean Doyle.