Portland Council votes to boost minimum wage to $10.10 per hour

Good Tuesday morning, everyone.

Bernie Sanders spoke to thousands of people in Portland last night, and among the policy goals he outlined was an increase in the minimum wage.

Simultaneously and just a few blocks away, the Portland City Council voted 6-3 to raise wages in that city, supporting a plan by Mayor Michael Brennan to increase minimum wages in Portland from the state level of $7.50 to $10.10 per hour on Jan. 1.

According to the Portland Press Herald, which first reported the vote, the wage will increase again to $10.68 per hour in 2017, and be pegged to inflation thereafter.

In passing the minimum wage increase, Portland became the first city in the state to address wages at the local level (South Portland and Bangor are also considering local wage hikes). It also jumped the gun on two proposed wage increases headed for statewide referendum.

Raising the wage has been a priority for Brennan since he was elected in 2011. The proposal earned new vitality in the past year, prompting Gov. Paul LePage to float legislation designed to make minimum wage setting a sole prerogative of the state — barring municipalities from enacting their own wage ordinances.

Democrats have long advocated for a wage increase, and party activists and allies have increasingly turned to local efforts and citizen’s initiatives in the face of gridlock at the federal and state level. While LePage’s proposal won support from the business community and some Republicans, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to win passage in the Legislature.

Check bangordailynews.com for more on this story later today. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

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Susan Collins, Angus King announce $2.9 million for Portland Head Start

The Opportunity Alliance in Portland will receive a $2.9 million federal DHHS grant for its Head Start program, according to a news release from Maine’s U.S. senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King.

Head Start is pre-K program including health, nutritional and social services for preschoolers and their families.

“Maine is fortunate to have many community development organizations that provide stepping-stones to greater educational opportunities,” the senators said in a joint statement. “This funding will support the Head Start programs offered by The Opportunity Alliance and the valuable services they provide young children and their families.”

The Opportunity Alliance is a community action and public health group, and the state’s designated crisis response agency in Cumberland County. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

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A quick programming note

Thanks to everyone who’s read and subscribed to the Daily Brief during its first session. We knew there would be demand for a daily dose of political news to get you started every day, but we had no idea the demand — and the response — would be so hearty.

As the Legislature concludes its work though, Daily Brief will join lawmakers in entering off-session mode. Readers will see two changes. The first you’ve likely noticed already: The Daily Brief will be shorter as a result of the slowing flurry of activity at the State House.

Second, starting tomorrow, subscribers will start receiving their emails at noon, rather than at 8 a.m. This move will allow us to get more of the day’s news in while still ensuring you are kept up to date on everything happening in Augusta and beyond.

On July 16, the last scheduled day of the legislative session, we’ll make sure to deliver the Daily Brief early, so that you all don’t miss a thing.

Thanks again for making Daily Brief such a success. — Mario Moretto, BDN.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.