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Republicans Try Not To Take The Bait On A Minimum Wage Hike

by Christine Stuart | Mar 24, 2014 5:06pm
(10) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Business, Election 2014, Equality, Jobs, Labor

Christine Stuart photo

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero talks to Rep. Themis Klarides, one of his deputies

They may not support a hike in the minimum wage, but Republican lawmakers are realistic about their chances of changing or killing it during a Wednesday legislative session.

“I’m not sure what the vote will be in this committee or on Wednesday when we take it up. I think it’s inevitable that it’s going to pass,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said. “I think it’s going to cause a lot more problems than the help that people purport it to be.”

It’s an election year and increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017 is a top issue for Democratic lawmakers. President Barack Obama visited Central Connecticut State University on March 5 and rallied with supporters in favor of the increase.

Cafero said the Democratic majority would like nothing more than to use this vote against Republicans in an election year by getting them to “go on and on and on about it, but we’re not taking the bait.”

Cafero attended the Appropriations Committee Monday to let his members know it’s not a battle they need to wage.

Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, focused on the fiscal note for the bill and tried to avoid the public policy argument.

The fiscal note for the bill states that increasing the minimum wage will cost the state an additional $103,000 in 2015. In 2016, the state will incur an increase of $383,000 to various state agencies, and $785,764 to account for the new collective bargaining agreement reached with daycare workers who participate in a state-funded program.

The fiscal note also says that “many contracts entered into since 2008 have a provision that allows the contractor to seek a price adjustment if the minimum wage is increased. As a result, the timing of these impacts is uncertain.”

Miner wanted to know if the committee would be accounting for the increased salaries of the newly unionized daycare workforce in a budget it will release later this week.

Appropriations Committee Co-Chairman Beth Bye said the fiscal note says there is a small fiscal impact to the state this year.

“Like everything when there’s a fiscal note we have to find the funding for it,” Bye said.

Bye then turned to Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, who said the minimum wage was “faceless.”

“We’re not seeing the people who are being directly related to this issue,” Walker said.

The minimum wage currently in Connecticut is $8.70 an hour. That’s about $350 a week for those working 40 hours. Walker said that’s not enough to help lift anyone out of poverty.

But Republican Sen. Rob Kane said the argument creates an “us versus them” mentality, which isn’t accurate.

Kane, who owns KarTele Cellular Phones in Waterbury, said it’s the business owners who employ people who worry about having enough money to continue paying their employees.

“This whole building. This whole idea about helping people, it’s false,” Kane said. “You’re actually going to do more harm than good.”

He said if Connecticut wants to sustain job growth then it needs to stop mandating how much private companies pay their employees and start lowering taxes so they can create jobs and “expand their payrolls.”

But Walker disagreed.

“How do you separate business from the quality of life of the people that are trying to survive?” Walker said. “. . . We have to make sure all families are being represented, not just a small portion. Not just the business owner, but also the families that work in that business.”

Bye said CEO pay has gone up 15 percent between 2011 and 2012, at the same time as worker pay decreased by 2 percent over that same period of time.

“When the money keeps going to the people at the top, it’s not spent in the communities,” Bye said.

She said an increase in the minimum wage would be spent in the communities where it’s earned because individuals with such little income have to spend it in order to survive.

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(10) Comments

posted by: Matt from CT | March 24, 2014  6:05pm

>Bye said CEO pay has gone
>up 15 percent between 2011
>and 2012, at the same time
>as worker pay decreased by
>2 percent over that same
>period of time.

Hate to break the news to you Beth…but it’s those CEOs who overwhelmingly benefit from the giveaways of state dollars by the Democrats here.

At its the workers and small businesses of this state that bear the burden to pay for those handouts.

posted by: Greg | March 25, 2014  8:49am

I still believe a better solution would be a First-In-The-Country experiment of a true “living wage” mandate of $15/hour here in CT to be phased in on Jan 1, 2015.  That way, there will be zero doubt on the broader economic effects of such a proposal and CT can be the test case and show the benefit/detriment once and for all. 

Despite Bye’s bleeding heart, $10.10/hour by 2017 or whenever is meaningless.  If the Democrats were serious about lifting people out of poverty they’d go straight to $15/hour and quite literally put their money where their mouths are.  Anything less is mere political pandering with a quarter here, dollar there.

posted by: justsayin | March 25, 2014  12:44pm

Why not let people pull themselves out of poverty? The gov has no business in this arena. The economy will adjust it self. This is purely buying votes with other peoples money, again.

posted by: dano860 | March 25, 2014  1:20pm

Greg is correct, the Republicans should be advocating $15/ hour in 2017.
I have said that in previous posts.
Create some tax payers, fewer tax takers.

posted by: Matt W. | March 25, 2014  3:53pm

Matt W.

As long as we’re just throwing numbers out based on good intentions and zero quantitative analysis, why would you stop at $15/hr?  Lets end poverty once and for all with a $35/hour min wage!  Just imagine the tax revenue that would generate!

posted by: art vandelay | March 26, 2014  5:45am

art vandelay

@Greg,
I have to admire your logic, and vast intelligence of grasping the basics of economics.  Businesses are NOT in the business of employing people.  They are in Business to MAKE MONEY. At the end of the day a business HAS to take more money in than it gives out.  If Dunkin Donut’s has to pay an employee $15.00 p/hour guess what?  The $2.00 cup of coffee and $1.00 you purchased today will cost you $4.00 & $2.00.  Guess what, you’re not going back, and that $15.00 employee is now in line at CT Works.  So much for the $15.00 minimum wage.  It puts people OUT of work and NOT employed.

posted by: Greg | March 26, 2014  8:45am

@ Art: Thank you for insulting my intelligence.  You missed the sarcasm in my proposal. Have a nice day.

posted by: dano860 | March 26, 2014  9:31am

Art, your statement covers my cynicism quite well. To Greg’s point though, $10.10 is a joke. Where is it even derived from? Why not $11 or $12.50?
The forcing of a struggling business to pay out more than they can afford will result in job adjustments.
D.D., I gave them up years ago, it is a luxury happening or special meeting with friends that I go there. I know that was only your case maker but without a doubt you are correct. I did find out that the guy who owns the local D.D.‘s said he pays more than the new planned minimum now. He says he can’t get decent help for the existing number. That would be capitalism and competition working is my guess.

posted by: art vandelay | March 26, 2014  10:55am

art vandelay

@Greg,
My sincere apologies, I thought you were being serious.  I agree w/you 100%.

posted by: art vandelay | March 26, 2014  10:58am

art vandelay

How many times do we have to pound it into the heads of Progressive Socialists that minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs.  They are NOT career positions. If people want a “Living Wage” job, it’s called GET AN EDUCATION or CAREER.  The State offers assistance at CT Works & Rehab Services. People trying to make careers out of minimum wage jobs need to take advantage of these state programs.  Another idea is stop having kids at age 17.  Stay in school.