(by Richard Weizel, Reuters) MILFORD, Connecticut — Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy on Thursday signed into law a measure that will phase in the highest minimum wage of any U.S. state, in line with a push by Democrats nationwide to raise the entry-level wage.
The bill, which was approved by state legislators a day earlier, will raise the state’s minimum hourly rate to $10.10, a figure that matches what U.S. President Barack Obama has asked Congress to consider imposing nationally.
Malloy signed the legislation on Thursday evening in the same New Britain diner where he appeared earlier this month with Obama and three other New England governors: Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. All are Democrats who have pushed to raise the minimum wage in their states.
New Britain, located in the center of the state, has been hard hit by the economic downtown with the household median income at about $35,000, compared with the statewide median of $66,000.
“This is just a step in moving people in the right direction,” Malloy said in signing the bill. “We will be lifting people out of poverty in the state of Connecticut. Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it’s also good for business,” he added.
Connecticut’s Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, also a Democrat, said: “Raising the minimum wage helps people who need it most, is good for the economy and is the right thing to do.”
State House Republican spokesman Patrick O’Neil said his party opposed the measure because it does not believe the bill will help create jobs in a state with an unemployment rate of 7.2 percent, above the national average. “This is just politics in an election year and isn’t going to lift anyone out of poverty,” O’Neil said.
“In Bridgeport, the state’s largest city, there is a 50 percent unemployment rate among teens ages 16-19. If they can’t get a job at $8.70 an hour, what will it be like when the rate goes up?” he said. “This is just going to cause employers who create jobs in the state to hire even fewer people.”
Obama’s call for a higher national minimum wage has failed to win the backing of the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
The Congressional Budget Office said in a report released last month that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour nationally would reduce total employment by some 500,000 workers.
Connecticut’s minimum wage currently stands at $8.70 per hour, and the bill will be phased in to $10.10 over three years. The current highest state minimum wage in the United States is Washington’s $9.32, above the $7.25 federal minimum.
Malloy is up for re-election this year and state Republicans have called the measure a politically influenced move.
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1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. a) Which party wants to increase the minimum wage the government requires businesses to pay entry-level employees?
b) Which party does not support government increasing the minimum wage?
3. a) What effect does Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy say raising the minimum wage employers must pay employees to $10.10/hour will have?
b) How does Connecticut’s Democratic Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey view the government mandated minimum wage increase to $10.10/hour?
4. For what reasons do Republicans oppose increasing the mandated minimum wage?
5. a) Connecticut’s current minimum wage is $8.70/hour. What is the federal minimum wage?
b) The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the U.S. government that provides economic data to Congress. What did the CBO say the effect of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour nationally, as President Obama is working to do, will have on employment?
6. Understanding both sides of this issue is necessary before forming your own opinion. Most media reports favor the Democratic position (raising the minimum wage will help families – can’t raise a family on minimum wage, it will help women, it will help the economy). The position opposing a government mandated increase is not as often explained in the media. To gain an understanding of both sides, watch the video under “Resources” below and read the commentaries.
a) List the reasons for and against the government mandating a higher minimum wage.
b) Think about the reasons people have for opposing or supporting government mandated increases. With which position do you agree? (Who has the stronger argument?) Explain your answer.
c) Ask a parent if he/she thinks raising the minimum wage will have a positive or negative impact on the economy (or no impact either way) and to explain why he/she thinks so.
- As of Jan. 1, says the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
- Nineteen states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have minimum wages equal to the federal minimum wage.
- Four states and American Samoa have minimum wages below the federal wage.
- New Hampshire repealed its minimum wage in 2011, the National Conference of State Legislatures says, but the state mandates that wages lower than the federal minimum wage cannot be paid.
- The New Hampshire House this month voted to increase the minimum wage in the state to $8.25 next year and $9 in 2016 and to tie future annual increases to the Consumer Price Index. The bill now goes to the state’s Republican-led Senate.
- Five states have not established a state minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (from usatoday)
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