Senator Frantz: Minimum Wage Hike Would Increase Burden on Small Businesses [Connecticut Post]

April 30, 2013

Article as it appeared in the Connecticut Post on April 27, 2013

Malloy backs raising of minimum wage
By Ken Dixon

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday offered a compromise that would raise the minimum wage 75 cents over the next two years.

Rather than increasing the $8.25 hourly wage to $9.75 over the next two years — as proposed in a bill pending in the state Senate — Malloy called for a phase-in to $9 by Jan. 1, 2015.

He said that since the failure of an increase last year in the Legislature, his opinion on the issue has evolved. And with New York adopting the higher rate, Connecticut can still stay competitive if it rises to $9, he said.

“During the last session I supported an increase, but for a host of reasons it never came to pass,” Malloy told reporters after the monthly meeting of the State Bond Commission. “It is my hope that this year we can get it done. I have spoken with some in the business community and I believe we can get to $9 an hour over the next two years, an increase that will make it just a little easier for working people in our state without adversely impacting the business community. The fact is this is just good public policy.”

About 90,000 of the state’s lowest-paid workers — out of a statewide workforce of 1.7 million — would be affected. Malloy said he’s optimistic that he can reach the compromise with legislative leaders needed to change the pending legislation.

“People making the minimum wage are making about $300 a week,” Malloy said.

Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said he supports the revised wage.

“We are always concerned about the economic realities facing working families and a fair minimum wage is a critical part of the equation,” Sharkey said in an afternoon statement. “It is important to find the right balance between helping people and protecting our economy, and I think the Governor’s proposal meets that balance.”

Last year the proposal won support in the House, but it died on the Senate calendar without debate.

In response, minority Republicans said Friday the state’s economy is still too fragile to put added expenses on business owners.

Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, ranking member of the legislative Finance Committee, said that it’s too soon after the recession to put further burdens on business owners.

“Given the weak state of the economy here in Connecticut and the prospects, which are not great for a robust economy for the foreseeable future, I’m not sure now is a good time at all to be suggesting we raise the minimum wage,” Frantz said in the Capitol complex.

“Let the free market do its magic,” he said. “That way we’ll have a much better situation at the end of the day because our economy will be less fettered.”