Senate Dems Unconvinced on Minimum Wage; Is Malloy Privately Supportive?

It was to be his signature piece of legislation as he exits the Speaker’s office and takes a seat in Congress. That’s the plan Chris Donovan has in mind as his last legislative session heats up. Donovan is the key force behind a bill increasing the minimum wage, from the current $8.25 to $9 this year and $9.75 next year. However, the players that have to be on board—Gov. Malloy and Senate President Don Williams—are not backing the measure just yet. In Malloy’s case, he isn’t publicly supporting it. And in Williams’ case, he and his fellow Senate Democrats are simply not convinced this is the time to do it.

Back on Feb. 5th, I co-hosted FOX-Connecticut’s public affairs show, “The Real Story” with Laurie Perez. A main topic was Donovan’s bill increasing the minimum wage. My first question to him was why is Gov. Malloy is not yet on-board. He said the governor was supportive “for the most part.” After the show I asked again if Malloy was going to support the bill. Again, he said the governor was generally supportive.

Yet here we are nearly a month later and the governor, at least publicly, says he has not made a decision on it yet and hasn’t committed one way or another. That begs the question, “Has the governor pledged privately to support the increase?” Malloy has an ambitious education reform agenda to get through the legislature this year. He could use Donovan’s help. Donovan is known as being as supportive as can be of labor unions—including teachers unions. He’s also running for Congress. We’ll see how all that works out.

Meanwhile, state Senate President Don Williams has doubts about the timing of the measure. “We are currently researching the issue such as the history of when we raised the minimum wage in the past,” Williams said. “Usually, we raise it when we need to catch up to neighboring states and in good economic times.” Neither is the case this year. And then there are the measures passed last year that the business community saw as burdensome. The Earned Income Tax Credit performed better that expected and businesses are now required to provide paid sick leave to employees.

Currently, Connecticut’s minimum wage ($8.25) is already higher than in Massachusetts ($8.00), Rhode Island ($7.40) and New York ($7.25). And there is no question we’re not in good economic times. Besides, Williams and Donovan have not even talked it out. “There have been no meetings on it,” Williams said. So as of now, Donovan’s bill to raise the minimum wage has a long way to go.