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By Al McKeon October 3, 2014
By Jonathan Van Fleet October 3, 2014

Gabby Giffords' group says people in NH want to raise minimum wage and Marilinda Garcia opposes it

A gun reform group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, has turned its focus to New Hampshire, running a TV ad that criticizes Republican congressional candidate Marilinda Garcia not only on gun ownership, which is the group’s main focus, but also on the minimum wage and equal pay for women.

In a 30-second spot titled "Strange Ideas," Giffords’ group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, asserts that Garcia holds views different from a majority of New Hampshire residents.

"Marilinda Garcia has some strange ideas. Most people in New Hampshire want to raise the minimum wage. Garcia opposes it. Most people support guaranteeing women get equal pay for equal work. Garcia’s against that, too. Garcia even opposes closing the loophole that allows dangerous criminals to get a gun without a background check. Granite Staters deserve commonsense leadership, not Marilinda Garcia."

PolitiFact New Hampshire decided to check the record on those claims. In this item, we’ll check Garcia’s stance on a minimum wage increase.

Garcia, a state representative, is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, a Democrat, for the 2nd Congressional District seat. The Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC unveiled the advertisement in September, just as it stopped airing a controversial TV ad that accused a congressional candidate in Arizona of opposing legislation that aims to prevent convicted stalkers from buying guns.

On-screen, the New Hampshire ad cites a WMUR-TV poll from February that found three-quarters of New Hampshire residents supported raising the state minimum wage to $9 an hour. That provides support for the ad’s claim, though it’s worth noting that a federal proposal supported by President Barack Obama and other Democrats would push it higher, to $10.10 an hour.

At the time the poll was conducted, the New Hampshire Legislature was considering a bill (HB1403) to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 in 2015, and then to $9 in 2016.

The poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, found that 59 percent of residents strongly supported the increase and another 17 percent somewhat supported it. Eight percent strongly opposed it and 5 percent somewhat opposed it. Another 11 percent were neutral or don't know enough to say, according to WMUR.

New Hampshire is the only state among its neighbors without a higher wage than the federal floor of $7.25, and it has the lowest minimum wage of any New England state. The minimum wage is $8.73 an hour in Vermont, $8 in Massachusetts and $7.50 in Maine. All told, it is one of 18 states have the same minimum wage as the federal minimum of $7.25, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

About a month after the poll, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to increase the state’s minimum wage by a vote of 173-118. Legislators voted mostly along party lines, with five Democrats voting against it and four Republicans voting for it.

We checked the roll call to see how Garcia voted, but on three successive votes on March 12, 2014, related to the minimum wage bill, Garcia did not cast a vote.

Later, in May, the Republican-controlled State Senate killed the bill, with all 13 Republicans voting against it and 11 Democrats voting in favor of it, a process in which Garcia played no official role.  

An earlier legislative battle over the minimum wage in New Hampshire also sheds light on Garcia’s record.

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In 2011, the New Hampshire legislature, with a majority of Republicans in the House and Senate, passed a bill that deleted the state’s minimum wage, meaning that the state’s lowest wage would be the federal minimum. At the time, New Hampshire’s minimum wage was $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal amount, but critics said the bill was intended to keep the state’s minimum wage as low as possible.

In the House, Garcia was one of 236 legislators to vote in favor of that bill, HB133. After passing the state Senate, Gov. John Lynch vetoed the measure. Both the House and Senate overrode Lynch’s veto, and Garcia was one of 261 members of the House to vote in favor of overriding the governor.  

So, while Garcia has no voting record on the 2014 minimum wage increase in New Hampshire, she did take a clear stand on the 2011 law tying the state’s minimum wage to the federal one.

As further evidence of Garcia’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage,  the ad cites an article from The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress, which reported that Garcia opposes a minimum wage hike.

That article, published June 9, introduced Garcia -- then considered an underdog in the Republican primary against state Sen. Gary Lambert -- to a national audience. The article reviews her record as a state legislator and points to how some GOP establishment figures had feared Garcia would be viewed as too conservative in a general election race.

The article quotes Garcia saying in a March interview that while increasing the minimum wage superficially seemed like "a good idea," it wouldn’t "actually help anybody much more" and could in fact hurt. "It actually has negative outcomes in many areas. One would be, if we’re trying to encourage people to educate themselves further so they don’t have to stay in a minimum-wage job anymore, raising [the minimum wage] lowers the incentive to do that," she said.

Garcia’s stance hasn’t changed since then. In an email message to PolitiFact New Hampshire, Kenny Cunningham, the Garcia campaign’s political and communications director, reinforced the position.

"A one-size-fits-all minimum wage from Washington, D.C., is counter-productive. Economists agree it would increase unemployment, particularly amongst teenagers," Cunningham said. "Instead, Marilinda wants to reduce America’s highest-in-the-world corporate tax rates and rein in job-killing regulations."

Our ruling

An ad from the liberal Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC says most people in New Hampshire want to raise the minimum wage, but Marilinda Garcia opposes it.

Polls from when the New Hampshire Legislature was considering raising the state’s minimum wage showed that a majority of residents surveyed supported increasing the wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $8.25 and eventually to $9 an hour.

And Garcia has gone on the record criticizing attempts to raise the minimum wage, saying it’s effects could be "counter-productive" and could lead to "negative outcomes." She also cast several votes in 2011 that effectively kept the state minimum wage the lowest in the region.

The claim needs a slight clarification. As backup for the assertion that "most people in New Hampshire want to raise the minimum wage," the poll cited a poll that asked residents about a $9 minimum wage. It’s not clear whether residents would support a hike to the higher level of $10.10, as the president and congressional Democrats are seeking.

On balance, we rate the claim Mostly True.


Our Sources

Gabby Giffords' group says people in NH want to raise minimum wage and Marilinda Garcia opposes it

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