With partisan votes on a pocketbook issue that the White House and Connecticut Democrats hope will mobilize voters this fall, the General Assembly voted Wednesday for legislation that would raise the state's $8.70 minimum wage to $10.10 by January 2017.
The bill, which was approved 21-14 in the Senate and 87-54 in the House, became an instant political talking point for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and President Obama. Malloy is to sign the bill Thursday evening at Cafe Beauregard, the New Britain restaurant where Obama dined before a minimum-wage rally three weeks ago.
The state is the first to pass legislation establishing a $10.10 minimum wage. With a $9.32 minimum, Washington state now has the highest.
“I am proud that Connecticut is once again a leader on an issue of national importance. Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it’s also good for business,” said Malloy, a first-term Democrat facing re-election.
In a statement issued by the White House, Obama said Connecticut set an example with its overwhelming passage of a state law that meets his goal for the nation.
"But to truly make sure our economy rewards the hard work of every American, Congress must act," Obama said. "I hope members of Congress, governors, state legislators and business leaders across our country will follow Connecticut’s lead to help ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the chance to get ahead."
The debate Wednesday was designed to establish competing campaign narratives: Democrats predicted their votes will lift thousands from poverty, while Republicans warned of job losses.