HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — After some reluctance earlier in the year, the Governor now says he fully supports hiking the state minimum wage. It could be just the boost labor leaders and other advocates at the State Capitol were looking for.
The Governor stepped off the sidelines in the legislative debate on the minimum wage Friday and announced he is backing a plan to raise the wage from the current $8.25 per hour to $9 over the next two years.
"We have a lot of people working at the minimum wage who aren't working just one job, but they're working two or three," said Governor Malloy, "so this is a small amount of relief intended to help those hard working individuals and I think it's the right time to do it."
"It's the last thing in the world we need to hear; in essence it's another tax on employment, another tax on commerce," said Sen. Scott Frantz. "At the end of the day consumers pick up that additional expense."
The employees in one print shop make more than minimum wage, but the owner often adds part-time college kids at minimum wage in the summer. He may think twice if the wage goes up.
"We are continuing to put our foot on the throat of the small business community," said Rep. Sean Williams, "the people that hire low income workers."
"People making the minimum wage are making about $300 a week, the people who are making statements, the likes of which you just repeated, are making substantially more," Malloy said, "it's time to move on."
The impact on restaurant owners would be very clear, service workers that work for tips also get a percentage of the minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes up, that part of their wages also goes up. Another increase in costs for a small business.
"Are we, in fact, open for business? Or are we making it more difficult for businesses, particularly small businesses and service businesses," said Sen. Frantz.
State Senator Cathy Osten is a former labor union leader and now chairs the labor committee, which has already endorsed hiking the minimum wage. She says having the Governor now stick his neck out on this issue is the boost advocates need.
"Him, sticking his neck out, as you say, is showing that there is support in the state of Connecticut for the minimum wage," said Sen. Osten.
And Sen. Osten points to a recent public opinion poll showing 75 percent of voters in Connecticut approve of hiking the minimum wage.
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