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New CT minimum wage passes

By Sten Spinella
On March 27, 2014

Senate Bill 32, An Act Concerning the Wages of Working Families, moved to the house and is awaiting the vote that would effectively raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in Jan. 2017.
Around 12 p.m. the bill was deconstructed by the 14-member senate Republican minority, which attempted to tack on amendments in order to delay the vote on the underlying bill, all of which were defeated. In the Senate the vote count was 21 to 14, with every Democrat but one, Sen. Joan Hartley of Waterbury, voting yes. The House went through a similar process, with the amendments also being defeated, but Republicans, who are in the minority, successfully stalled a vote on the bill itself for the time being.
The bill that the Democrats and Republicans of the state senate voted on stipulated that Connecticut would raise the minimum wage from this year's $8.70 in increments to $10.10. On Monday, the bill was moved to its final stage, through the senate and then the house, after the Appropriations Committee voted in favor of the increase. Despite Republican concerns with the increase, the house voted and passed the bill.
The proposed wage hike is supposed to meet its maximum by January of 2017. Last year, a bill similar to this one, which was made into law, saw the $8.25 minimum wage grow to $8.70 by Jan. 1, 2014, afterwards moving to $9.00 in 2015. The current bill goes further. It will push next year's $9.00 minimum to $9.15, then becoming $9.60 in 2016, and finally $10.10 in 2017.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has advocated for the bill heavily, making it one of the top goals for his agenda as it rose in feasibility. President Obama even brought his presidential political sway to Connecticut on Mar. 5th, speaking at Central Connecticut State University to promote the increase.
"It's time for $10.10. It's time to give America a raise," Obama said during his visit. "Nobody who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty."
The issue of minimum wage is a contentious one between Democrats and Republicans. House minority leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, voiced the typical conservative concerns that the bill would hurt small business and cause job loss, while Democratic Rep. Toni Walker, the Appropriations Committee co-chairwoman, argued that it is the job of state senators and representatives to do everything they can to help struggling people make it above the poverty line.
On a larger scale, both points of view have their merits. Ron Unz, a writer and former politician, published a comprehensive article in support of the minimum wage titled "Raising America's Wages...By Raising America's Wages." Strangely enough, it was written for The American Conservative, an intellectual right-wing publication. His stance? "Perhaps the most effective means of raising their wages is simply to raise their wages."
While admitting that some job loss is likely, he also pointed out that instead of the reactionary response of immediate firing, most businesses would probably increase prices a small amount to assist with having to pay workers more. He also shows a perplexing phenomenon: despite inflation, the minimum wage has inexplicably and steadily decreased since 1968. Unz continues, making an economic argument for the increase rather than a humanitarian one:
"America's working poor tend to spend almost every dollar they earn, often even sinking into temporary debt on a monthly basis," Unz wrote. "Raising the annual income of each such wage-earner couple by eight or ten thousand dollars would immediately send those same dollars flowing into the regular consumer economy, boosting sales and general economic activity.
"Finally, one of the more unexpected benefits of a large rise in the minimum wage would follow from a total reversal of bipartisan conventional wisdom. Whereas our elites regularly tell us that an increase in higher education might have the benefit of raising American wages, I would instead argue that a sharp rise in ordinary wages would have the benefit of reducing higher education, whose growth increasingly resembles that of an unsustainable bubble," Unz wrote.
Yet, last month, the Congressional Budget Office made public a report that said a minimum wage increase by 2016 would cause a job loss of 500,000, as well as 16.5 million workers making more money.
The CBO looked specifically at the "$10.10" option. They found that: "Increasing the minimum wage would have two principal effects on low-wage workers. Most of them would receive higher pay that would increase their family's income, and some of those 


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