Fairfield legislators oppose minimum wage hike

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, at podium, with State Rep. Laura Devlin at the State Capital.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, at podium, with State Rep. Laura Devlin at the State Capital.

Contributed photo

HARTFORD- State Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132) and Laura Devlin (R-134) voted last Thursday against a proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Kupchick said, “As a small business owner for over 30 years, this specific minimum wage proposal will severely harm the mom-and-pop businesses that make up Connecticut’s economic core. My district is filled with businesses that are already struggling to survive in the unfriendly climate that exists with the continued overregulation, and taxation and the prospect of tolls on state roads and required expenses. This proposal is going to add to Connecticut’s struggling economy - not improve it.”

“We need to understand that this minimum wage proposal doesn’t create a single job, but rather heaps yet another economic burden on already-struggling businesses throughout Connecticut and risks losing jobs,” said Devlin. “The questions surrounding this proposal for the most part went unanswered and not-addressed, particularly around our local and state not-for-profits providers.”

Kupchick added, “I was very disappointed the majority party refused any bi-partisan negotiations on the bill or accept any common sense amendments to improve the bill. I believe, the language that passed will result in a lack of opportunities for young people entering the workforce, and a net loss of jobs for those earning minimum wage because employers of small businesses will simply reduce their workforce to maintain their already tight margins or for larger businesses, utilize technology to replace employees.”

H.B. 5004 increases Connecticut’s minimum wage from $10.10 per hour to $15 per hour (a 48.5 percent increase) over a four-year period beginning October 1, 2019 ($11/hour). The rate would then increase $1 per year until June 1, 2023 when it becomes $15. From then onward, the minimum wage would rise automatically with the employment cost index. Only individuals under 18 years of age will be eligible to receive 85 percent of the minimum wage for the first 200 hours of employment.

House Republicans made several attempts to amend and improve the bill. Amendments included language to protect municipalities (LCO 8201), and non-profits, hospitals and universities (LCO 8204). Other amendments addressed seasonal employees (LBO 8259), learners and beginners, training wage (LCO 8280), as well as farm and agricultural workers (LCO 8266). None of the Republicans amendments passed.

According to Department of Labor, Connecticut dropped 3,400 jobs in the first three months of 2019. Connecticut lost 1,300 jobs March alone, pushing unemployment one-tenth higher than the national rate of 3.8.

According to the state’s largest big association, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), the state needs an additional 23,700 net new jobs to rebound fully from the 2008 recession, ranking last in job recovery in New England.

The bill now awaits action in the Senate.