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.