Connecticut’s Democrat-led legislature voted Wednesday to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, as called for by President Obama who wants to do the same at the federal level.
As reported by CT News Junkie, the state Senate approved the measure, 21-14. Lawmakers in the state House approved 87-54. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP) plans to sign the legislation Thursday at the restaurant where he and other New England governors ate lunch with Obama during his visit to Connecticut on March 5.
“I hope Members of Congress, governors, state legislators and business leaders across our country will follow Connecticut’s lead to help ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the chance to get ahead,” Obama emailed shortly after passage of the bill.
The current minimum wage in Connecticut is $8.70 per hour. On January 1, 2015 the amount will raise to $9.15, then to $9.60 on January 1, 2016, and, finally, to $10.10 on January 1, 2017.
Malloy said the bill’s passage means Connecticut is a national leader on the issue of raising the minimum wage. According to the Associated Press, the $10.10 wage is the highest imposed by a state, but several cities, such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages of $10.74 and $11.50, respectively.
“Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it’s also good for business,” Malloy said. “This modest increase will give working families a boost, and it will contribute to our economy by getting just a little more money into the pockets of people who will spend it in their communities.”
“This bill is a modest step forward made on behalf of those who have the least, working their hardest to provide for themselves and their families. It’s the least we can do to give them a hand up,” Senate President Donald Williams (D) said.
Waterbury State Sen. Joan Hartley (D) voted with Republicans against the measure. Four Democrats in the state House also broke with their caucus in opposing the bill.
“I don’t have jobs in my community to raise the minimum wage,” Hartley said. “As I speak to you this afternoon, my unemployment rate right now is just below 13 percent in my city.”
Democrats immediately criticized Republicans for voting against the measure. According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, 71 percent of Connecticut voters support an increase in the minimum wage.
State House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, however, reminded lawmakers that the state just voted last year to increase the minimum wage over two years.
“Folks, we just did this a year ago,” Cafero said. “Did we get it wrong a year ago? Did we blow it?”
State Sen. Joe Markley (R), a conservative, said the legislation was just one more damaging policy for Connecticut.
“We have, over the course of 50 or 60 years, destroyed a great economy in the state of Connecticut,” Markley said. “I don’t say that this bill in and of itself is… going to have any worse effect than many other similar errors we have made, but I think it is yet another in a long line.”
Republicans had proposed dealing with the minimum wage by linking it to the consumer price index, but Democrats defeated the amendment.
State House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D) boasted that Connecticut has set an example for Congress.
“Today was about supporting the thousands of struggling working families in our state, and adding hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy,” Sharkey said.
Author and economist Thomas Sowell wrote the following in his Townhall piece entitled “Minimum Wage Madness:”
Advocates of minimum wage laws often give themselves credit for being more ‘compassionate’ towards ‘the poor.’ But they seldom bother to check what are the actual consequences of such laws…
One of the simplest and most fundamental economic principles is that people tend to buy more when the price is lower and less when the price is higher. Yet advocates of minimum wage laws seem to think that the government can raise the price of labor without reducing the amount of labor that will be hired.
When you turn from economic principles to hard facts, the case against minimum wage laws is even stronger. Countries with minimum wage laws almost invariably have higher rates of unemployment than countries without minimum wage laws.
“As for being ‘compassionate’ toward ‘the poor,'” Sowell wrote, “this assumes that there is some enduring class of Americans who are poor in some meaningful sense, and that there is something compassionate about reducing their chances of getting a job.”