After being lukewarm to a minimum wage hike proposed in 2012 by then-House Speaker Chris Donovan, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday proposed boosting the wage to $10.10 per hour in 2017.
\”There is a debate happening across our country on how to tackle the growing income inequality that is detrimental to our middle class families and to our economy,\’\’ Malloy said in a statement after unveiling his plan in Bridgeport. \’\’Part of tackling that critically important challenge is making sure that we recognize that a good and decent wage is good for workers and good for business.\’\’
He added, \”For too long, the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. As studies have shown, the workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase brought home 46 percent of their household’s total wage and salary income in 2011. When workers earn more money, businesses will have more customers. This modest boost will help those earning the least to make ends meet.”
Citing Malloy\’s skepticism only two years ago, the Connecticut state director of a small business group asked Malloy \”to explain why his reasoning on the minimum wage seems to have dramatically changed\’\’ since Donovan\’s bill failed without a vote in the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
“We’d like to know what’s changed,” said Andrew Markowski, the National Federation of Independent Business state director. “Last year, the governor warned that a higher minimum wage could damage small business. Now, he’s calling for a 22 percent increase over the previous level. It’s very confusing.\’\’
An estimated 5 percent of the state\’s workforce is paid the minimum wage.
Malloy\’s proposal for $10.10 per hour in 2017 matches the same level that was proposed last week in the State of the Union Address by President Barack Obama.
“Connecticut’s economy certainly hasn’t improved so sharply in the last six months that a big increase can be rationalized,” Markowski said. “What the governor is proposing now would be a very big over the next few years. Our economy is growing at a fraction of that pace. His original concerns should have intensified. Instead they seem to have disappeared, and we’d like to know why.”
Connecticut\’s minimum wage was increased to $8.70 per hour on January 1.
Lindsay Farrell, the executive director of the union-backed Connecticut Working Families Party, strongly supported Malloy\’s move.
“Governor Malloy knows that $9 is not enough, and we’re glad he is leading on this issue,\’\’ Farrell said in a statement. \”Once again, Connecticut has the chance to be a national leader when it comes to bread and butter economic issues. Everyone who works full time should be able to afford to survive, and this gets us closer to that goal.”