Connecticut has joined five other states and District of Columbia on a path to increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour in the coming years.
Gov. Ned Lamont signed the bill into law Tuesday, over a week after it passed the General Assembly.
He was joined by Democratic leaders from the General Assembly and leaders from organized labor who helped pass the measure.
“We tried and failed a couple of times and this year we got it done,” Lamont said during the bill signing.
With the law in place, the first increase of the minimum wage will happen in October of this year to $11, from the current hourly floor of $10.10. In 2023, Connecticut’ minimum wage will reach the goal of $15.
For fast food workers like Angelo Candelario, who has worked in places like Wendy’s and Dunkin’, he views the increased wages as an incredible gift.
“I’ll be able to pay more than one or two bills. I will be able to put 10, $20 into savings,” Candelario said. “That’s what’ll open up the mental horizon, knowing you could save something for another day.”
Connecticut’s business community had been fighting hard against an increase to the minimum wage over the past four months.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association sent an open letter to lawmakers Tuesday calling on them to stop before passing similar legislation to the minimum wage that increases costs on businesses.
The group’s CEO Joe Brennan, who speaks on behalf of hundreds of members said, “My concerns for Connecticut are compounded by the General Assembly's direction. There are way too many bills progressing through the legislature that will, quite frankly, make it harder rather than easier for companies to keep and add jobs here. This is particularly true for small businesses.”
One of those members, Geaorge Frantzis, who owns Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, said he anticipates cutting back on some staff to make up for the increased wages being mandated by the state.
“We’re going to do everything we can to cut back and we’re going to look at our staffing and scheduling and plan accordingly,” he said.
He was also blunt in his assessment of the minimum wage passing, saying, “It put a shot across the bow that Connecticut’s government isn’t business friendly.”
Supporters, like Rep. Robyn Porter, (D – New Haven), disagree. She, and others, argue that higher wages will lead to more money being spent in the state economy, which will lead to growth for the state. She says even the small dollar figure of $40 per week for some full time employees this fall, will make a difference.
“During that debate, it was said that $15 is not a livable wage. No, it’s not, but it’s one step closer. Right? And that’s how we make things happen. One step at a time.”
The bill signing was held at Carecentrix. It also has its headquarters in the state. The company’s COO and President Laizer Kornwasser, provided allies with a boost, telling his story of the decision the company made to raise wages for its own workers. He says the move paid off, saying the company doubled in size since wages increased.
“We made the decision to increase the minimum wage that we pay our employees because we felt that was the right thing to do,” Kornwasser said. “We made the decision to increase the minimum wage to our employees because we knew we were investing in our single most important resource, our single most important asset, our employees.”