While his Republican opponents were duking it out at the polls Gov Dannel P. Malloy joined White House officials Tuesday afternoon for a conference call on the minimum wage.
The call followed the release of a White House report that showed 13 states and the District of Columbia increased the minimum wage after president Barack Obama called for the boost during his 2013 State of the Union Address. The increases at the state level and the boost in pay for federal contractors approved by executive order will benefit about 7 million workers, according to the report.
Back in March, Connecticut became one of the first states to pass legislation increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017. Under the law, the minimum wage will increase to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015; $9.60 on Jan. 1, 2016; and finally to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017. Republican lawmakers in both the House and the Senate voted against the increase and a handful of Democratic lawmakers joined them.
Malloy maintained his support of the legislation Tuesday.
“The vast number of people earning the minimum wage in the United States and this is certainly true in Connecticut, I think it’s true in all of New England, are adults well over the age of 22 years old,” Malloy said. “For one of those individuals to be stuck in a job that pays them the old minimum wage and therefore to be living in poverty as they struggle to raise their children makes no sense.”
He said it also doesn’t make them a good consumer. He said these are the people most likely to put their money back into the economy.
In Connecticut, the first phase of the minimum wage increase won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2015.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said recent studies show job growth in states that have raised the minimum wage is higher than in states that haven’t.
“Time and time again we see talking points that don’t bear a resemblance to the reality on the ground,” Perez said. “There’s a pretty robust evidence base showing that when you raise the minimum wage, you do good by the economy.”
Director of the National Economic Council Jeff Zients said raising the minimum wage over time has no meaningful negative impact on unemployment.
Malloy said he believes the increase in the minimum wage, paid sick leave, and the Earned Income Tax Credit are programs that would be at risk if he was defeated by one of the Republicans in November.
“A candidate for governor said he would support it on a national level, of course knowing it’s probably not going to happen, but he wouldn’t support it on a state level,” Malloy said. “Well, that sounds like a promise to roll it back to me.”
One of Malloy’s Republican opponents Sen. John McKinney voted against the minimum wage increase earlier this year. Tom Foley, who ran against Malloy in 2010, has said he’s more comfortable with a national minimum wage increase.
“The minimum wage is a fairness issue, so I support raising the minimum wage nationally to help people who struggle the most to earn a living,” Foley has said.