On Thursday morning, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill raising the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour.
The bill passed the Senate 21-15 and the House 89-53, with no Republican in either chamber voting for the bill. The new law will increase the state’s minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $8.70 in 2014 and $9.00 in 2015. The new wage will compete with that of Vermont for the highest across New England, with Vermont’s wage increasing automatically each year with inflation from its current rate of $8.60 an hour. New York, whose wage currently stands at $7.75 an hour, has passed a similar bill that will match Connecticut’s new rate by 2016.
“This change will make it just a little easier for working people in our state without adversely impacting the business community,” Governor Malloy said in a Wednesday night press release ahead of signing the bill. “This is the right thing to do for hard working men and women, and the right thing to do for families.”
Indeed, supporters of the wage increase, spurred on by labor unions who have been pushing for an increase since Malloy took office in 2011, argue that the higher wage will stimulate the economy, as workers earning the minimum wage tend to spend all of their earnings. Opponents counter that Connecticut, whose economy largely comprises small businesses, is not yet in a position to afford a wage increase amid an anemic economic recovery.
Many Republican lawmakers predicted that the increase will lead to job losses across the state.
“Are we looking to reduce jobs today?” Rep. Richard Smith of New Fairfield, the ranking House Republican on the Labor committee, asked The Connecticut Mirror. He added that high costs are the chief obstacle in the way of job growth in Connecticut.
The last minimum wage bill to become law was a 2008 bill passed over Republican Governor Jodi Rell’s veto, which raised the state’s minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.25 by 2010.