By Tony Parra
U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman spoke to a Portales gathering on a few topics residents dealing with health care and wind energy on Friday at noon at Mark’s Eastern Grill, culminating Bingaman’s tour in Portales.
Bingaman (D-N.M.) spoke about voters and asked people at the gathering to encourage young people to come out and vote in the general election.
“You have a tremendous resource at Eastern,” Bingaman said. “We need to get students to register and vote.”
Bingaman also made a stop at the Abengoa Bioenergy plant on Friday, according to Alva Carter, chairman of the Southwest Dairy Farmers of America council. Bingaman said he also went to the ethanol plant on Friday. Bingaman was in Clovis on Thursday for a question and answer segment on the Ute Water Project.
“Your ethanol plant is about to double in size,” Bingaman said. “The ethanol plant will give a boost to the local economy. I’ve worked with (Sen. John) Kerry on a clean bill.”
He also spoke about the Ute Water Project to the Roosevelt County residents. Bingaman also weighed in about the minimum wage and whether it would be increased through legislation.
“I support having (the) minimum wage increased,” Bingaman said. “If you’re going to have increases in living expenses, the wage should keep up. It’s not fair to people when they are dependent on that for their livelihood.”
Bingaman responded whether it would hurt small business owners if the minimum wage is raised.
“A lot of economic studies show it’s not the case,” Bingaman said. “Everyone will have to pay the same amount so competition won’t have the advantage. We’ve been irresponsible at the federal level to let the minimum wage go unchanged. I’m in favor of an increase.”
Bingaman’s communication diirector, Jude McCartin, said Bingaman had to catch a plane shortly after the noon meeting with residents. Bingaman planned in Oklahoma with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) on Friday night for a fund-raiser for Brad Carson, who is running for a senate seat in Oklahoma.