Advocates who support gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour released a poll Monday that found 61 percent of 400 Connecticut voters support the measure.
But the poll data may have come too late to have an impact this year. The legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee failed to vote on a bill to increase the minimum wage before its deadline.
Paul Filson, political director of SEIU 1199, said the bill had a public hearing and could be amended as a concept to another bill later this session.
The poll by Abacus Associates found that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 had support of 61 percent of Connecticut voters. An estimated 36 percent of voters opposed it.
In the meantime, Filson said he’s excited to see legislation that would fine large employers for failing to pay their employees $15 an hour has moved forward.
A poll last year by Abacus Associates found that 60 percent of Connecticut voters support implementing a fee on large employers who don’t pay their employees $15 an hour.
Filson said the money collected from these large employers would off-set the amount of money that state pays in benefits like Medicaid and food stamps to these low-wage employees — essentially subsidizing these large, profitable companies.
Filson said they see the two bills as related and will continue to fight for passage of both.
However, Eric Gjede, assistant counsel at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, said there’s a reason the $15 an hour legislation failed to get a vote.
He said even lawmakers who may have supported increasing the minimum wage in the past see what a bad idea it is to do it this year.
“We still have not come close to recovering the jobs we lost in the recession,” Gjede said.
As for the low-wage worker bill, Gjede said people are recognizing the bill for what it is — “a tax.”
He said the $305 million it’s expected to raise won’t help the low-wage workers and won’t help the state off-set the cost of the benefits it pays to the employees because the money goes back to the general fund. He said the legislation also exempts unions.
Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Trumbull, who supports the legislation, said she feels like everything the state does is “on the back of poor people” and this legislation asks corporations to “pay their fair share.”
She said she hopes the revenue is more attractive to lawmakers grappling with a $900 million deficit next fiscal year.
Suzanne Bates, policy director for the Yankee Institute, said businesses are unlikely to absorb the “tax.” She suggested during a public hearing earlier this month that corporations would “either cut costs — by cutting jobs or benefits — or they could raise prices.”