NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation Thursday that will raise Connecticut's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, the highest rate for any state in the country.
Surrounded by state lawmakers and officials, Malloy appeared at a packed Café Beauregard, the same New Britain restaurant where he dined earlier this month with President Barack Obama and several other New England governors. The president was in town to advocate for a national $10.10 minimum wage.
After signing the bill, Malloy said it was one of his "proudest days as governor" and added: "It's time to get people out of poverty."
Earlier in the day, Malloy and legislative leaders received a congratulatory phone call from Vice President Joe Biden, who thanked Connecticut for being the first state to pass legislation enacting the $10.10 wage. Some cities, but no states, have higher minimum wages.
"Our message back to the vice president was, 'Mr. Vice President, you can use this and use the states that are marching in the right direction. But we need to do this on a national basis,'" Malloy said. "No one in no state should work 40 hours a week and still live in poverty. Connecticut has put the marker down. Other states will follow. We're going to get the job done."
Connecticut's Democratic-controlled state House and Senate approved the bill Wednesday, with only Democrats supporting the legislation. The bill will increase the state's current minimum hourly wage of $8.70 to $9.15 on Jan. 1, 2015, to $9.60 in January 2016 and to $10.10 in January 2017.
Legislative Republicans and various business groups criticized the increase as another action making Connecticut uncompetitive. The state's wage recently climbed to $8.70 on Jan. 1. It was previously scheduled to also increase to $9 next year.
"Many small business owners were disappointed by the increase last year but partially relieved that the issue was behind them. Suddenly it's back and it's bigger," said Andrew Markowski, Connecticut director of the National Federation of Independent Business. "They must be wondering what's next, and who could blame them?"