Malloy visits White House to meet with Obama, Biden on minimum wage hike push

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was among a group of Democratic governors to attend a Friday meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama to discuss efforts to raise the minimum wage at state levels.

Obama briefly attended the gathering, and also met separately with the governors on a variety of issues.

Participating in the Feb. 21 minimum wage event were Vice President Joseph Biden, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, senior presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperlinga, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) International President Mary Kay Henry, and others.

Malloy was in Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Governors Association’s winter meeting.

The other governors at the meeting were Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, Jay Inslee of Washington, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, and Pat Quinn of Illinois.

Obama praises Malloy’s efforts

Earlier this month, Malloy introduced legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 in stages through January 2017, mirroring recent national efforts by Obama and certain Congressional leaders to raise the federal minimum wage to that same amount.

The increase would give Connecticut the highest minimum wage in the nation.

“Gov. Malloy is doing extraordinary work in Connecticut to lift their minimum wage and give more hard-working Americans a raise,” Obama said.

Good for workers and businesses

Malloy said a hike in the minimum wage would address problems with income inequity.

“There is a debate happening across our country on how to tackle the growing income inequality that is detrimental to our middle-class families and to our economy,” Malloy said.

“Part of tackling that critically important challenge is making sure that we recognize that a decent wage is good for workers and good for business," he said.

The governor said “the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. As studies have shown, the workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase brought home 46% of their household’s total wage and salary income in 2011.

“When workers earn more money, businesses will have more customers,” he said. “This modest boost will help those earning the least to make ends meet.”

CT’s minimum wage went up in January

In 2013, Malloy signed a bill into law that increased Connecticut’s minimum wage in two stage — from $8.25 to $8.70 an hour on Jan. 1, 2014, followed by a second increase to $9 an hour that is currently scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Malloy’s new proposal — which will require state legislative approval to become law — would lift the minimum wage to $9.15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2015, to $9.60 on Jan. 1, 2016, and to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017.

Up to 90,000 earn minimum in CT

Out of Connecticut’s workforce of 1.7 million people, it is estimated that there are currently 70,000 to 90,000 workers who earn the minimum wage.

Malloy’s proposal means that an employee earning $10.10 per hour and working 40-hours per week would earn $21,008 per year.