Christine Stuart photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill Thursday that will increase the minimum wage in Connecticut to $9 dollars by 2015.

The increase will be implemented in two parts: it will rise from the current $8.25 to $8.70 on January 1, 2014, and another 30 cents on January 1, 2015.

“This gradual increase over two years is a balanced approach to helping hard working men and women without adversely impacting the business community,” Malloy said. “Although I believe our nation as a whole should move this direction, I also think Connecticut needs to lead the way in helping working families.”

The legislature’s democratic leaders all backed the bill as it moved through the House and Senate on votes that were decided mostly on party lines. One Democratic senator and three Democratic state representatives voted against the increase.

“This is a reasonable and overdue increase in the minimum wage that will help thousands of Connecticut families,” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey said in a press release. “This legislation strikes the right balance between helping people and jump-starting our economy.”

But the majority the Republican lawmakers were not convinced.

Republican Minority Leader Larry Cafero said the minimum wage hike is an anti-business move, and its implementation will only drive businesses away from the state at a time when Connecticut’s economy continues to lag behind the rest of the country.

Cafero supported minimum wage increases in the past, but said in today’s economic climate, it wasn’t a smart decision for businesses. He said this is particularly true considering this year’s budget, which he said will lead to tax increases.

“It doesn’t tell the world or the citizens of the state of Connecticut or those who hope to be businesses and job creators in the state of Connecticut: come to Connecticut,” Cafero said at a press conference Thursday. “It is just the opposite. It’s a status quo budget in that it reinforces our anti-business attitude.”