New Mexico CAFé announced the news in a press release on Tuesday afternoon.
The group collected more than the 2,257 valid signatures needed to place the question of whether to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017 in front of Las Cruces voters. There is still a chance that it won’t go in front of voters — if city councilors vote to approve it themselves, there would be no need for a vote.
However, city councilors are likely to stick to a smaller minimum wage increase they approved earlier this year. That increase was approved by local businesses, which oppose the effort by CAFé to raise the minimum wage even higher.
The next scheduled city council meeting takes place on August 4.
“Anticipating that our ordinance to improve wages will be voted down, the best possible scenario for taxpayers is a concurrent and combined election with the City and the County during the November 4th general election,” CAFé executive director Sarah Nolan said. “To do anything else would risk disenfranchising voters who clearly want to participate in the democratic process.” Nolan added, “I trust that City and County officials will reciprocate our good faith efforts and streamline the process in the best interests of voters.”
“It is time for Las Cruces to hold their city government accountable allowing residents to exercise their right to vote in the most efficient manner possible, and since this is the first time a ballot initiative has been utilized by the citizens of our community to participate in the future of our community, I urge our city officials to be on the right side of history,” campaign manager Angelica Rubio said in the release.
President Barack Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage nationwide to $10.10 per hour. With a deadlocked Congress, including a Republican-controlled House, any significant legislation is unlikely.
If the ballot initiative does make it on the November general election ballot, which seems likely, it could help Democrats involved in close races throughout the ticket.
Albuquerque and Santa Fe already have minimum wages higher than the state’s $7.50 minimum wage. Albuquerque raised their minimum wage through ballot initiative.
Both cities’ minimum wages are tied to inflation, so they will increase as inflation rises. The Las Cruces question would also tie the minimum wage to inflation.
Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties also have minimum wages higher than the statewide minimum wage. They followed suit after the largest cities in their counties (Santa Fe and Albuquerque) raised the minimum wage.