Area Republicans say businesses can’t afford $15 wage minimum

State Representatives William A. Petit Jr. (R-22), Whit Betts (R-78), and Cara Pavalock-D’Amato (R-77) said the state’s business community can’t afford the crush of anti-employer policies pushed by the majority party’s “controversial” proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15, according to a House Republican press release.

House Bill 5004, An Act Increasing the Minimum Fair Wage, would increase the state’s current wage of $10.10 to $15 over a four and a half year time frame, reported the press release. As of Oct. 1, the wage would increase to $11 effective Oct. 1, 2019; to $12 effective Sept. 1, 2020; to $13 effective Aug. 1, 2021; to $14.00 effective July 1, 2022; and $15 effective June 1, 2023.

During the 14 hour debate, the GOP press release said Republican lawmakers called multiple amendments to implement changes to the bill that would have lessened the blow to local municipalities, nonprofit organizations, and individuals in the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled (IDD) community. “Despite their best efforts,” said the Republican release, Petit, Betts, Pavalock-D’Amato and their Republican colleagues were unable to prevent the bill from passing forward without having some input into its final language.

All three lawmakers agree on increasing wages and doing what is best for the greater population of hard-working men and women but are worried that if those increases are too severe or too fast, that it could lead to reduced employment opportunities, shorter hours, and closed businesses, according to the GOP news release.

“I, like many of my colleagues believe in fair wages, but I feel any increase to the minimum wage needs to be done so that it make economic sense and is fiscally responsible in a clear cut time of economic contraction,” Petit said, according to the release. “After listening to our constituents and several hours of public testimony, our caucus pushed for a longer wage increase implementation, carve outs for those under the age of 18, those working summer jobs, our municipalities, and nonprofits. Unfortunately those suggestions weren’t approved. I hope that more compromise can be had when this bill heads to the Senate for their vote.”

“The passage of this bill will have harmful effects on many of our non-profit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Bristol, Bristol Adult Resource Center and local businesses like Lake Compounce,” Betts said reported the press release. “It will also severely hurt many of our small businesses in Plymouth and Bristol who are currently employing less than fifty people”

“Not everyone has the financial capabilities of Walmart, a large corporation who has the ability to absorb these type of drastic increases,” Pavalock-D’Amato said in the House Republicans’ statement. “Our small business owners aren’t guaranteed to have more revenue to cover the costs associated with this bill. As a new mother, the increased costs of childcare also concern me. Democrat lawmakers say they need to increase the minimum wage in order to keep up with the costs of living in Connecticut, but somehow forget that they are the ones responsible for making this state so unaffordable.”