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House to vote on $15 minimum wage

WETHERSFIELD —  The Connecticut House of Representatives could vote Wednesday to increase the state minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. It’s a compromise proposal that’s gone through a lot of changes.

There was a bill that came out of the labor committee and then Tuesday, another version came through appropriations. The Governor had his own ideas. But in order to get enough support to pass, the final bill had to be a compromise.

“I work 7 days a week and I make it work but it’s still tough,” said April Feeney. She is the cook at the Wethersfield Diner. But she’s also a Mom and holds down two jobs. “On the mom side, of course. You want people to make $15 as a minimum wage because it’s almost impossible to live these days with anything less than that,” she said.

Her boss, Stacey Pribyson, owns the diner. She said it’s not that she doesn’t want to pay her employees more. “Absolutely not, I understand. I understand the cost of living in Connecticut is very high,” she said. But Pribyson said the increase is too much too soon, and the cost would be passed down the customers. “I just think that $15 an hour for beginning employees is an unrealistic amount to ask small businesses to pay their employees,” said Pribyson.

The bill would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in four years and be indexed to inflation after that. Rep. Robyn Porter thinks small businesses aren’t factoring in the benefit to them. “They are going to get compensation in the way of higher productivity, higher morale, more retention and less turnover,” said Porter.

But Republicans say the proposal may have some unintended consequences. Rep. Themis Klarides, (R) House Minority Leader said, “It’s not going to be that people are going to be paid more money, there are going to be less jobs. So I don’t see how that’s a win for anybody at the end of the day.”

As we mentioned, compromise forced the bill to take on a new form. Because of that, tipped workers won’t get any increase to their base wage and it will not be indexed to inflation. “That’s the part of it that I hate,” said Rep. Porter.

The bill also includes a 90 day training wage for 16 and 17 years olds, mainly for seasonal or summer workers. They’ll be paid at 85% of the minimum wage. Governor Lamont advocated for that.

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