The Maine House of Representatives has approved a measure requiring that all public school workers, from teacher aides to kitchen staff, be paid a minimum wage of $16-an-hour. Under current law, the minimum salary for teachers is $40,000 a year.

In one of the closet votes of the session, the House gave initial approval by a margin of of 73-71. Supporters argued that school workers are underpaid and deserve a minimum wage that will incentivize them to remain in those positions. Portland Democrat Mike Sylvester supported the bill.

Opponents say the mandates are unaffordable for many school districts, particularly those in rural areas. They also question the fairness of giving one group a minimum wage for which many other workers in Maine don’t qualify.

The state Senate has yet to consider the measure.

Megan Diver

Megan has worked in Maine politics for more than ten years and all of her professional career, having served in many roles for elected officials (including former Secretary of State Charlie Summers), in-house with the Maine Association of REALTORS®, legislative specialist at Pierce Atwood LLP providing lobbying services and support to Pierce Atwood’s government relations clients and most recently senior government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Megan currently is the Vice President at the Maine Energy Marketers Association, utilizing her vast knowledge and legislative experience at the State House to represent MEMA on policies relating to the Association and its members.