The bill passed the Democratic-controlled General Assembly on largely party lines Wednesday. It passed 21-14 in the Senate and 87-54 in the House.
Under current law, Connecticut’s minimum wage was already scheduled to climb by 30 cents to $9 on Jan. 1, 2015. But under this bill, it would instead increase to $9.15 an hour. It would go up to $9.60 on Jan. 1, 2016 and to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017.
Between 70,000 and 90,000 people earn the minimum wage in Connecticut, said Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn.
Republican senators acknowledged some people would benefit but questioned whether struggling small businesses and the state’s economy are strong enough to absorb the increase.
“To call it soft is a compliment,” said Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington. “We’re increasing the minimum wage at a time when the demand for employment is already low.”
Malloy, who has yet to announce his re-election plans, has made the minimum wage a major political issue. Besides appearing with Obama, Malloy was involved in a recent on-camera partisan feud outside the White House with Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal over the $10.10 federal minimum wage proposal.
According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released earlier this month, 6 in 10 registered Connecticut voters support increasing the wage to $10.10 or more. The survey of 1,878 registered voters had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.