Connecticut’s minimum wage gets a boost from legislators

moneyOver the course of the next two years, the state’s minimum wage workers will be getting a 75-cent per hour raise.

Weston’s three state legislators were in the minority when voting on whether to raise the state’s minimum wage. All voted against the proposal, which passed the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, May 29.

Following the vote, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced plans to sign the bill when it is sent to his desk, giving the measure final approval.

The new law will raise the state minimum wage from $8.25 to $8.70 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2014, and to $9 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Connecticut’s current minimum wage was set in 2010. Estimates prepared in conjunction by non-partisan think tanks Economic Policy Institute, and Connecticut Voices for Children, show there are currently approximately 99,500 minimum wage workers in the state.

Matt Santacroce, a policy fellow with Connecticut Voices for Children, said the 99,500 workers, plus another 62,200 who currently make less than $9 per hour, will see a pay increase as a result of the wage adjustment by 2015. By these estimates, he said Connecticut wages would increase by approximately $108 million.

Weston’s state legislators were among the 50 voting Republicans and three Democrats who opposed the bill to adjust the minimum wage.

“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,” Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) said. “Too many of our small businesses and restaurants in our area have closed as a result.”

State Rep. John Shaban (R-135) said that raising the minimum wage “increases the labor costs of our small and local job creators, and thus hurts the seasonal and entry level employees by forcing these employers to hire fewer people.

“The undeniable data shows that when minimum wage goes up, so, too, does the unemployment rate,” said Mr. Shaban.

By 2015, the minimum wage increase will make Connecticut’s minimum wage the second highest in the country, behind Washington state, whose minimum is $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. The bill passed the Connecticut House by a vote of 89 to 53.

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