$9-an-hour baseline would be second-highest in nation
HARTFORD — Minimum wage workers in Connecticut could be getting a bigger weekly paycheck starting this summer if State Rep. Christopher G. Donovan (D-84) of Meriden gets his way.
The House Speaker is proposing a 75-cent increase to the state’s minimum wage, from the current $8.25 to $9 per hour, starting July 1. He plans to propose the legislation during the next legislative session, which commences February 8 and runs through May 9.
His proposal would call for the wage to be raised to $9.75 next year, and indexed each subsequent year, which would automatically adjust the wage annually to keep up with rising costs of living.
“More families than ever are relying on low-wage and minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet,” Donovan says. “That leaves them struggling. While most job losses in the recession hit higher-wage sectors like construction, manufacturing and finance hard, much of the new job growth has been concentrated disproportionately in low-wage industries.”
He says an higher minimum wage will lead to increased consumer spending, which will foster job growth at local businesses, and thereby stimulate the economy.
The representative is getting support from colleagues such as Bridgeport State Rep. Ezequiel Santiago (D-130), vice-chair of the Labor Committee; and State Rep. Bruce Zalaski (D-81) of Southington, House chair of the Labor Committee.
Some are critical of the proposal in that the higher wages could keep businesses from hiring more employees, especially young and entry-level workers. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has done little more than acknowledge Donovan’s proposal without commenting for or against it.
Andrew Markowski, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, called the proposal a “bad idea wrapped in a good intention.
“Small businesses that pay the minimum wage do so because they can’t afford to pay more,” Markowski says. “They’re already on the edge and this proposal will push them over.”
The state of Connecticut last raised its minimum wage in January 2010 from $8 to $8.25 per hour.
The state’s $8.25 wage is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25, and is one of the highest in the nation. Washington is highest, at $9.04 per hour, followed by Oregon ($8.80), and Vermont ($8.46), according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor.