HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers Wednesday approved raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, the highest for any state in the country and the same rate that President Barack Obama wants for the federal minimum wage.
Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who recently appeared with Obama and several New England governors to tout the proposal, applauded Wednesday’s votes, saying he’ll sign the bill into law at the same New Britain restaurant where Obama dined earlier this month during a visit.
“I am proud that Connecticut is once again a leader on an issue of national importance,” Malloy said. “Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it’s also good for business.”
Jack Temple, a policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, said Connecticut’s vote clears the way for other states to pass the legislation, and possibly Congress.
“I think the significance cannot be overstated for this,” he said. “The more action we see on the state level like this, that’s always an ingredient for momentum at the federal level as well.”
The New York-based nonprofit research and advocacy group said similar proposals are also being considered by lawmakers in Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and elsewhere.
The $10.10 wage is the highest imposed by a state, but there are higher minimum wages imposed by cities, including $10.74 in San Francisco. Washington, D.C., will raise its minimum wage to $11.50 by 2016. California’s minimum wage will increase to $10 by 2016.
“I hope Members of Congress, governors, state legislators and business leaders across our country will follow Connecticut’s lead to help ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the chance to get ahead,” Obama said in a statement after Wednesday’s vote.
Yet Republican lawmakers said the move was the latest in a string of legislation, including mandatory paid medical leave, making Connecticut uncompetitive.
“We continue to have this schizophrenic attitude, where we say we’re open for business on one hand — small businesses, you’re our backbone, you are our heroes,” said House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk. “Then we keep taking actions that keep punching them in the gut.”