The calendar flips over this week from 2016 to 2017, which will be very good news for the thousands of Maine workers who will get a raise.

On Jan. 1, the minimum wage increases from $7.50 an hour to $9, and the rate paid by tipped workers’ employers will climb from $3.75 an hour to $5. This was the result of a vote by a solid majority of Mainers who passed a referendum by a bigger margin than was enjoyed by the winning candidates for president and the 2nd Congressional District, as well as the winner’s edge in any of the four other referendum questions.

In other words, the election results may have surprised some people, but no one should have been confused. Maine people want to boost the minimum wage, which is consistent with what voters have said in every other place where the minimum wage has been on the ballot.

So it’s strange to see people in state government act as if they don’t know what is supposed to happen next. The Maine Department of Labor has told employers about the new rates that they are expected to pay in 2017, but the agency has announced that it will temporarily not enforce the law. Gov. Paul LePage, who was a vocal opponent of the referendum, has come forward to claim that voters don’t understand what they decided.

“Many employers and employees are unaware of the relationship between the minimum wage in Maine and the minimum salary that an exempt worker must be paid, and many legislators have announced a bill to restore the tip credit,” LePage said. “It is entirely appropriate for the Department of Labor to take time to help employers and workers understand and comply with the law without taking them to task.”

If anyone is confused on this matter, it’s the governor. The executive branch doesn’t get to decide which laws it wants to enforce while it waits for the legislative branch to give it laws that it likes better. The people of Maine did not make a suggestion Nov. 8 — they passed a law that goes into effect next week.

The Legislature could put this matter to rest, but so far it has not.

Democratic leaders have condemned LePage’s non-enforcement policy, but they have not announced that there will be no bill to undo the minimum wage law, so that there is no reason to put off enforcing it.

This is something that Democrats in the House of Representatives could do on their own because they have a majority and no bill could get to the governor’s desk if they all stick together.

At this point it should not even be a matter of whether they think that increasing the tipped wage is a good idea. Everybody had a chance to speak on the issue, and the voters decided. The governor chooses to respect only the elections that go his way, but that’s not our system, and preserving democracy should be enough for lawmakers of both parties to let the governor know that there will not be changes to the minimum-wage law next year.

Up until now, the political process has failed low-wage workers. It is not time for state government to get creative and pass a law that they wished they’d passed years ago.

The people have spoken. Everybody in Augusta should listen.

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