Wilton legislators do not support minimum wage increase
The Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday, May 29, to raise the state minimum wage to $8.70 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2014, and to $9 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2015. The bill passed the Connecticut House by a vote of 89 to 53, after passing the Senate.
Following the vote, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced plans to sign the bill after it is sent to his desk, giving the measure final approval.
Connecticut’s current minimum wage, which was set in 2010, is $8.25 per hour. Estimates prepared in conjunction by non-partisan think tanks Economic Policy Institute and Connecticut Voices for Children show there are approximately 99,500 minimum wage workers in the state currently.
Matt Santacroce, a policy fellow with Connecticut Voices for Children, said those 99,500 workers, plus another 62,200 who make less than $9 per house, will see a pay increase as a result of the wage adjustment by 2015. By these estimates, he says Connecticut wages would increase by about $108,000,000 annually.
Wilton State Reps. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Tom O’Dea (R-125) voted against the bill. Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher (R-26) also voted against the bill in the Senate.
Three Democrats and all 50 voting Republicans opposed the bill to adjust the minimum wage by a total of $0.75 over the next two years.
“This was a difficult measure to support at a time when our economic recovery is anemic at best and Connecticut has been the last in the country to grow jobs as well as increase personal income,” Ms. Boucher said. “Too many of our small businesses and restaurants in our area have closed as a result.”
Ms. Lavielle, representing the 125th District, said that she does not believe it is the right time to raise the minimum wage, as it will have a negative effect on those it is meant to help.
“This will raise [Connecticut companies’] personnel costs, a structural expense that’s not going to go away,” she said. “They may have to cut employee hours, stop hiring new people, or even cut jobs or close facilities. This won’t help people who earn minimum wage, and it won’t help businesses or our overall economy.”
However, Mr. Santacroce said that he does not believe the increase is a “lose-lose” situation for Connecticut businesses.
“One hundred eight million dollars in increases is a big deal for businesses,” he said. “Our research shows that people at or near minimum wages are likely to spend all their earnings in the community that they work in. It will help them get their car fixed, or get new clothes for their kids. In the sense that it has a stimulating effect in the economy, it is a good thing.”
Mr. O’Dea could not be reached for comment.
By 2015, this increase will make Connecticut’s minimum wage the second highest in the country behind Washington state, which rests at $9.19. A worker in Connecticut making minimum wage would realize a salary of $360 per week by 2015.
The increase places a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual salary at $18,720 by 2015. The poverty line for a family of three is $19,530.
Originally a Senate measure, the bill passed the smaller legislative body by a vote of 21 to 15.
Connecticut Voices for Children is a 501(c)3 research-based think tank in New Haven that focuses on children’s issues, and state and federal tax and budget topics.
Additional reporting by Bulletin intern Nathan Seper.