There’s nothing like a debate on an increase in the minimum wage to draw out the party lines in the House of Representatives.

The bill which increases the minimum wage from $7.65 per hour to $8 in 2009 and $8.25 in 2010 passed the House 106 to 45 Tuesday afternoon. The Senate still has to pass it and the governor still has to sign it before it would become law.

Four Democrats crossed party lines to vote against the increase, while three Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of it.

During the debate Republicans mostly argued that increasing the minimum wage would hurt small business owners.

Talking about small business owners, Rep. John Harkins, R-Stratford, said “a lot of these people are not wealthy people,” and when faced with an increase in the minimum wage they will “raise prices or cut back on staffing.”

Rep. Marie Kirkley Bey, D-Hartford, said the average rent in the city of Hartford is $862 per month, not including utilities. She said at the current minimum wage an individual working 40 hours per week takes home about $1,200 per month. After paying the utilities and groceries there’s nothing left.

She pointed out that by the time individuals receive the 25 cent hourly increase in 2010, a number of things such as gas prices will already have gone up enough to eat away any of the increase individuals will see.