Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Susan Bysiewicz, who is running for lieutenant governor, with Rep. Robyn Porter, Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Working Families Party and Lori Pelletier, president of the AFL-CIO (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 4:15 p.m. ) Democratic candidates say video they found of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski shows what he really thinks about the minimum wage.

The video posted on YouTube from a period before the Republican primary shows Stefanowski in what looks to be an unscripted moment being asked questions by someone off-camera about the minimum wage.

Stefanowski’s response: “Let the private sector decide what the right level of paying people is—not the government. We’ve gotta get the government out of our life.”

The voice off-camera in the video says he thinks the New York Times was right when it said proper minimum wage should be “$0.”

“Supply and demand,” Stefanowski says with a smile and a laugh. 

Susan Bysiewicz, who is running on the Democratic ticket with Ned Lamont, said bringing Connecticut’s minimum wage down to “zero” is “radical” and “would have a devastating impact on working families in our state.”

A minimum wage employee who works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, will earn just over $21,000.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, one-third of Connecticut workers earn less than $15 an hour. In Hartford more than half of workers earn less than $15 an hour.

An estimated 32.7 percent of workers earning less than $15 an hour are parents. More than one in five Connecticut children have a parent earning the minimum wage, Bysiewicz said citing the 2016 Federal Reserve Bank report.

Bysiewicz said Stefanowski needs to be asked whether he also supports the elimination of the federal minimum wage.

The federal minimum wage was last increased to $7.25 per hour in 2010. If Connecticut eliminated its minimum wage, an unlikely scenario because it would take legislative support, the federal minimum wage would be in place for workers.

Late Monday afternoon Stefanowski’s campaign emailed a response from the candidate.

“Another day, another lie from the Lamont campaign,” Stefanowski said. “It’s a bit comical that Lamont would put out a video that actually debunks the claims he makes in his own press release.”

Stefanowski told the Hartford Business Journal last week that he doesn’t support increasing the minimum wage from its current $10.10 an hour.

“You cannot put a 50 percent increase on small business right now, it will break their back,” Stefanowski said, adding that he supports the concept of a minimum wage, and that it should perhaps be tied to inflation. “More businesses are going to leave, people are going to automate more, you’re going to see that pass through right into prices the consumer is going to pay.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, a one-time gubernatorial candidate, said during a political campaign “you wonder what a candidate is saying or thinking in their private moments. Or what they are saying and thinking when they think no one is watching.”

Bronin said this video shows exactly what Stefanowski is thinking.

“This isn’t about Stefanowski saying we shouldn’t increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Bronin added. “This isn’t even Bob Stefanowski saying we shouldn’t increase it to $12 an hour. This isn’t even Bob Stefanowski saying we should think about lowering it from where it is. Bob Stefanowski, the Republican nominee for governor, believes that there should be no minimum wage.”

He said that’s radical even for the Republican Party.

“This is not a person anywhere near the center of the political spectrum,” Bronin said.

He said the video “tells us who Bob Stefanowski is and who Bob Stefanowski is is to the right of the vast majority of the Republican Party today.”

The U.S. Census says Connecticut’s poverty rate for 2017 is 9.6 percent.

Many people working minimum wage jobs in Connecticut still qualify for government benefits, such as food stamps and Medicaid. Those programs are partly supported by the state budget.

Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, said without a minimum wage Connecticut would have to spend far more money on government subsidies.

“You want to cut spending? Give people the money they need to take care of themselves so the state doesn’t have to take care of them,” Porter said.

The General Assembly failed to increase the $10.10 minimum wage earlier this year with a closely divided House and an evenly divided Senate. When the legislative dust cleared, a proposal to increase Connecticut’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 failed to gain any traction and never made it to a vote in either chamber.

Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Working Families Party, said New York and Massachusetts have already passed a $15 minimum wage, which will make Connecticut less competitive for those jobs.

AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier said “this is not Connecticut values.” She said there has been bipartisan support for increasing the minimum wage in the past, even though it’s stopped in recent years “because of the anger at workers.”

She said eliminating the minimum wage would only build more poverty and homelessness.

Democrat presser to discuss gubernatorial opponent Bob Stefanowski’s comments about the minimum wage

Posted by on Monday, October 22, 2018