Lamont Signs Minimum Wage Increase; Business Lobby Continues Protest
CT News Junkie, May 29, 2019
By Christine Stuart
As Gov. Ned Lamont signed into law a bill that will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2023, Connecticut’s largest business lobby continued to urge the former cable executive not sign it, or any other legislation they believe will be detrimental to business and the economy.
Surrounded by labor at the Parkville Care Center nursing home in Hartford, Lamont signed the bill.
“This is a big deal,” Lamont said.
After the press conference, Lamont said this bill is a “big win for Connecticut and a big win for working families. This is a 10% raise for people on Oct. 1. That’s $40 a week.”
Under the new law the current minimum wage of $10.10 an hour will increase to $11 in October, $12 on Sept. 1, 2020, $13 on Aug. 1, 2021, $14 on July 1, 2022, and then $15 on June 1, 2023.
Lamont also asked Laizer Kornwasser, president and COO of CareCentrix, to speak about why five years ago they decided to increase their lowest wage to $15 an hour.
Lamont said the company, which has no relationship to the nursing home where the signing ceremony was conducted, decided it was going to treat its workers with respect and “that’s what this bill is all about, treating people with respect.”
Kornwasser said they made the decision to increase the minimum wage they pay their employees “because we felt that was the right thing to do.”
He said since the company made that decision they’ve doubled their revenue and they’ve also doubled the number of employees they have in the state of Connecticut.
CareCentrix is the home healthcare company the state helped move from East Hartford to Hartford with a $24 million economic development package.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association continued their vocal opposition to the legislation, releasing a statement today.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t hear from a small business owner, often a small manufacturer, about the impact that a steeply higher minimum wage and an expansive paid FMLA bill will have on their ability to continue operating here,” Joe Brennan, president and CEO of the CBA, said in an open letter to lawmakers. “Do we really want to make it harder for these types of companies to compete and employ people here?”
Too little, too late back to top
For Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, it was too little, too late.
“After weeks of virtual silence, the CBIA, with less than two weeks left, decided to speak,” Fasano said in a statement. “I agree with many of the sentiments in Mr. Brennan’s letter, but there is one glaring omission. Mr. Brennan cannot bring himself to say the word ‘Democrat.’ CBIA does not have the courage to call out the party that is advancing these harmful policies.”
Andrew Markowski, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) in Connecticut, said the minimum wage increase will “be a hardship on small business owners in food service, daycare, amusements, or any company that hires entry-level workers.”
Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, said there was a lot of discussion during the 14-hour debate in the House about how a minimum wage is not a living wage.
“It was said what’s a dollar? What’s a dollar when you don’t have it? That’s a lot of money,” Porter said. “Times 40 that’s a meal, a utility bill, a pair of shoes for the child, a school trip.”
She said the State of Connecticut has set a trend and she hopes the rest of the states will jump on board. Connecticut is the seventh state to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Many of the same supporters of a minimum wage increase have also been working to get Paid Family and Medical Leave across the finish line.
Last week Lamont threatened to veto the version of the bill the Senate passed and the House has yet to take it up.
“Paid Family and Medical Leave will pass. We’re gonna get something done,” Lamont said.
Lamont had issues about how the quasi-public agency in charge of the trust fund would be governed.