Connecticut General Assembly overrides Governor’s minimum wage increase veto

The following was published at Courant.com, in the Hartford Courant:

HARTFORD, Conn. – With two votes to spare, the Democrat-controlled state legislature voted Monday to override Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s veto of a minimum wage increase.

It marked the second time that the General Assembly has overturned one of the Republican governor’s vetoes.

The override will ensure that the current minimum hourly wage of $7.65 an hour is boosted to $8 beginning in January, and to $8.25 an hour in 2010. The change will make Connecticut’s minimum wage among the nation’s highest.

“It’s a simple matter of equity,” said Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, saying low-wage workers need the $14 weekly increase as gasoline and food prices are increasing.

House members needed a two-thirds majority – at least 101 votes – to override the veto. The final tally was 102-39.

The Senate’s vote was 25-9, a one-vote margin above the minimum 24 votes needed for the override. Both votes were mostly along party lines.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington currently has the highest minimum wage rate, at $8.07 an hour. Of Connecticut’s neighbors, the minimum wage is $8 in Massachusetts, $7.40 in Rhode Island and $7.15 in New York.

An estimated 65,000 workers in the state receive the minimum wage.

Rell, who supported past minimum wage increases, called Monday’s veto override “a seriously shortsighted decision” that will hurt small businesses during a difficult economic period.

“Even as the national economic picture continues to darken, the legislature has opted to further cloud Connecticut’s business environment,” she said.

Most of Rell’s GOP colleagues agreed.

“Please, before you cast your vote on this bill, think about what you’re doing,” pleaded state Rep. Anthony D’Amelio, R-Waterbury, who also owns a small business. “What you’re doing actually is hurting the people you’re trying to help.”

D’Amelio predicted that businesses will cut workers’ hours to cover the pay increase.

Some Democrats called the Republicans’ concerns a red herring. Senate President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said similar dire predictions were made when lawmakers increased the wage in the past, but they never came true.

Sister Teresa Fonti, co-director of the House of Bread soup kitchen in Hartford, said she’s seeing more poor people with jobs seeking assistance.

“Obviously, this salary is not getting them through the week,” she said.

Democratic leaders initially were unsure how many legislators would attend Monday’s veto session because of summer vacations and work schedules.

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One Response

  1. A growing number of people are “working poor”. That means they work full time but live in relative poverty because of low pay and high costs of living. If someone like this is victimized by an IRS wage levy the effects can be devastating. Unfortunately the IRS won’t go away. Fortunately there is reasonably priced help available. Get your hands on a copy of the DVD by Attorney Darrin Mish, “How to Get a Release From an IRS Wage Levy.”

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