If decisions in Augusta were based on who posed the best arguments, the vote on the issue of minimum wage this week would have been different.

Splitting along party lines, the state Senate joined the House in killing a proposal to give a 25 cent per hour increase to minimum wage earners. Currently, minimum wage is set at $7.50 per hour.

Rep. Ed Mazurek, D-Rockland, argued that these workers would take an increase in wages and spend it in the community, giving the local economy a boost. He also stated that minimum wage jobs are often filled by those just entering the job market and by retired people who have to go back to work.

Democrat Chuck Kruger, of Thomaston, also supported the increase.

“I reject the idea that this vote is a ‘job-killer’ and believe that given the broad unemployment, high cost of commuting, etc., that working people need a boost,” Kruger said.

Their statements ring true in the present economic environment. Given high unemployment rates, raising the minimum wage can no longer be dismissed as something that only affects teenagers working after school and summer jobs. Citizens with family responsibilities have been forced to get by on these wages.

At the same time, the cost of living is rising with utilities, heating fuel and grocery bills all seeing major increases in just the past few years.

Local representatives helped in killing the bill. The strongest argument raised is that raising the minimum wage increases payroll costs to businesses.

Other arguments, however, ranged from weak to utter nonsense.

Republican Rep. Wes Richardson, of Warren, dismissively states, “If someone deserves $9 an hour, an employer will pay them $9 an hour.”

Republican Rep. Dana Dow, of Waldoboro, said lawmakers pat themselves on the back and say they’ve solved a problem for the “poor people of Maine,” but he argued that the minimum wage really solved nothing.

“Because we haven’t given them a vision,” Dow said, according to an article at Maine Public Broadcasting Network. “We haven’t helped them out of their poverty through training, by investing in our businesses. We haven’t helped them out by investing in their education, so I abhor the term minimum.”

How does keeping minimum wages down provide vision, training or education?

The minimum wage was put in place to keep workers who have fewer options from being exploited.

Even while witnessing the gulf between reasonable arguments and nonsense on this issue, the vote went against the wage increase, because it was a vote along party lines. Political might made right.

And in almost the same breath, the Maine Senate voted May 24 to increase the state tax exemption on estates by five fold.

All three local state senators (Sens. Christopher Rector of Thomaston, A. David Trahan of Waldoboro, and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport) supported the measure, LD 1147, that gained Senate approval 21-14.

Under current state law, estates worth up to $1 million are not taxed when they are transferred to someone through inheritance. LD 1147 would increase that exemption to the first $5 million of an estate.

The question at the end of this week in state politics is “Who’s looking out for the little guy?”