Sen. President Donald Williams said he spoke with the 21 Democratic Senators Tuesday behind closed doors and discovered there isn’t enough support for the proposed two-year, 50 cent minimum wage hike.
“Barring some significant turnaround, we have a number of folks who would not support the minimum wage bill as it,” Williams said at the close of the session Tuesday. The number of Senators in the Democratic caucus who don’t support it is greater than four Williams confirmed, but he declined to give a specific number.
House Speaker Chris Donovan, who is also running for Congress, was the main proponent of the legislation. Williams said he texted Donovan to let him know the Senate caucus did not support the bill and was unlikely to take it up this year. Williams defended the use of texting as a way to convey the message to Donovan because he feared once Senators started to leave the caucus room word would leak out.
But Donovan, undeterred by the text, said he thinks the Senate has some misinformation about how the tip credit for waitresses and bartenders works and will work at getting the “correct information” to the Senate. Donovan said he remains confident the Senate will take up the bill this year.
“People said I didn’t have the votes in the House. We got 88 votes here,” Donovan said.
Last week at least half of the 22 Senators were still undecided about whether they could support the version passed last week by the House.
The opposition was centered around “the timing,” Williams said. “They felt the economic times were not right. They’ve supported minimum wage increases in the past. They strongly supported the Earned Income Tax Credit last year which provides a significant boost to low-income workers.”
The revised bill increases the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour in the first year, and $8.75 an hour in the following year. Initially, the legislation would have increased the minimum wage to $9 per hour in the first year and $9.75 an hour in the second year, but House Speaker Chris Donovan agreed to alter the proposal in order to garner more support.
The revised version passed the House 88-62 last week and Donovan only lost 10 Democrats in the process.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, who voted against a minimum wage hike, said he’s probably not as angry as Democratic legislators are who were forced to take the vote.
“They only did it with the assurance it was going to pass the House, Senate, and be signed by the governor,” Cafero said. “All that debate, all that vote, all the political expenditure was for naught.”
Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said he’s not convinced the Senate will allow the minimum wage bill die. He said he’s seen his colleagues on the other side of the aisle change their votes on everything from the death penalty to tax increases either “because of political pressure or political convenience.”
“So I’m not going to hold my breath until midnight May 9,” he added.