A weak economy prompted Gov. M. Jodi Rell to veto a two-step increase in the state's minimum wage, even though the first raise wouldn't take effect until 2009. She cited the persuasiveness of businesses that opposed the increase and said it could cost them about $700 per employee per year.
Nonetheless, legislators appear to have the votes and ought to override the veto.
The argument against the proposed hike from $7.65 an hour to $8 in 2009 and $8.25 in 2010 is that the increased hourly wage will force employers to lay off workers and thus hurt working poor families rather than help them.
But this theory hasn't been proved. In fact, the increase would not affect the majority of Connecticut employers at all because most pay more than the minimum wage.
Surely, though, it is difficult for those workers who do make the minimum to get by, especially without an increase over the next two years. Connecticut is the wealthiest state in the nation and one of the most costly to live in. The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest residents is also the widest.
It's not a point of pride or a sign of economic health that over the past 10 years, low-income workers have lost economic ground while the top tier have grown wealthier by double digits. As Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams remarked, "We're not talking about putting the brakes on the economy. We're talking about helping workers at the bottom rung of the salary scale."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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