President Obama has congratulated Connecticut for becoming the first state to officially endorse his goal for the minimum wage. The General Assembly on Wednesday night passed a bill that will raise the wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017.
Connecticut's legislature had raised the wage just last year, and a few months ago, no one anticipated that the issue might surface this session. Then Governor Dannel Malloy announced that he would support President Obama in his goal of raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
As Wednesday's debate began, there was little doubt the measure would pass, but Republican senators introduced numerous amendments during a three hour debate, all of which were defeated.
Senate President Pro-tem Donald Williams said the issue is one of basic fairness. "We may think that those few extra dollars don't mean that much, because they wouldn't mean all that much to the CEO," he told the chamber. "But for those people who struggle in the state of Connecticut, those dollars mean everything: the ability to keep their family together."
Then it was the turn of the House. Republicans, including departing Minority Leader Larry Cafero, continued their attacks, saying there's a price for raising the wage. "Who pays the price?" he asked. "The person who's told they don't have a job. The teenager who's out looking for work during their high school years, and can't get it. The not-for-profit who has to cut services to our neediest of citizens because they just can't pinch that penny anymore, because this General Assembly said you're going to pay your wage earners more, but we're not giving you another dime to do it."
In the end, every Republican and just a handful of Democrats voted against the measure, but it passed easily.
Governor Malloy issued a statement saying he's proud the state is a leader on an issue of national importance. He's expected to sign the bill at a café in New Britain that was visited by President Obama before his recent rally on the minimum wage.