Date: Fri 10-Apr-1998
Governor Rowland Says He'll Sign Minimum Wage Bill
HARTFORD (AP) -- Gov. John G. Rowland said last week he will support a bill
now before the House to raise the minimum wage a dollar by the year 2000.
Rowland said he will sign the bill into law if the House does not change the
version the Senate passed April 2 on a 27-to-8 vote.
Connecticut's minimum wage is $5.18 an hour, three cents higher than the
federal minimum wage. The bill would bump it up 50 cents next January 1, and
another 50 cents on January 1, 2000.
Rowland said he would prefer that the federal government handle the minimum
wage, but he said he thinks business can afford the dollar hike and it will
not cause any economic hardship.
"The economy is so robust here in Connecticut right now, that that's probably
driving the minimum wage. In most cases, employers are paying far over the
minimum wage because there's such a need for skilled and unskilled labor,"
House Speaker Thomas Ritter said he and other leaders will decide when to
bring the bill up for a vote.
Ritter, D-Hartford, said he does not think the bill would be changed in the
By deciding to support the bill, Rowland has deflated the Democrats' chance to
turn the minimum wage into an election issue.
"Thank God for election years," Ritter said.
The governor opposed a state wage hike two years ago, and Senate Democrats _
then in the minority -- caused a work slowdown in the waning days of the 1996
session when the GOP failed to consider the proposal.
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Barbara Kennelly's campaign called Rowland's
change of heart a good thing for working families, but characterized it as an
example of his adoption of Kennelly's issues.