After several hours of debate – beginning Wednesday and ending at about noon today – the state House of Representatives has passed a bill to incrementally raise Connecticut’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Under HB 5004 – which now goes to the Senate — the hourly minimum wage would increase from $10.10 to $11 on Oct. 1; $12 by Jan. 1, 2020; $13 on August 1, 2021; $14 on July 1, 2022; and $15 on June 1, 2023. Further wage increases would be indexed to the federal employment cost index.
The bill does not increase the minimum hourly wage for bartenders and restaurant servers. Instead, bartenders would be paid the current $8.23 an hour, with servers and other restaurant workers earning the same $6.38 an hour, with the understanding that their wages are supplemented by tips. Employers would be required to contribute money to make up any shortfall in the hourly rate.
Some 332,000 state workers will receive the pay raises. Workers aged 16 and 17 would receive 85 percent of the minimum wage for 90 days, after which they would receive the full $15 an hour, beginning in the summer of 2023.
The debate fell mostly along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor of the bill and Republicans against it. The latter have maintained that such a wage hike would be particularly harmful to small business owners, and could dissuade them from expanding their existing business or even from starting a company here.
“I’m doing everything possible to engage the business community so they can grow here, relocate or stay and hire Connecticut residents who represent the top workforce in the country,” said Gov. Ned Lamont. “In order to grow, we need policies that protect our workforce and the small businesses who need them. Raising the minimum wage will help lift families out of poverty, combat persistent pay disparities between races and genders, and stimulate our economy.
“This compromise represents a fair, gradual increase that will improve the lives of working families in our state who struggle to pay for childcare, afford tuition, put food on the table, pay the mortgage, or cover the rent,” Lamont added, saying he will “proudly sign this into law” upon Senate approval.
“Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour lifts up families in our state, especially the over 170,000 households that are headed by women,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. “It also helps get us closer to closing the gender pay gap and provides relief for all workers by allowing them to meet basic financial needs.”
“The debate on the minimum wage took all night but the result was well worth the wait,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “Hundreds of thousands of working people in Connecticut are now one step closer to receiving a much deserved and long overdue raise.”