The votes were largely along party lines, with Republicans expressing concern about the impact on small businesses and the state's economy while Democrats touted the benefits higher wages would bring to thousands of individuals and families.
The Senate passed the bill 21 to 14, and it made it through the House with a vote of 87 to 54, according to the Hartford Courant, which noted that a total of five Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill.
When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs the bill on Thursday, Connecticut will have the highest enacted minimum wage in the country.
Malloy will sign the bill at Café Beauregard in New Britain, where President Barack Obama joined him for lunch earlier this month when he came to Connecticut to ramp up support for his proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10.
Connecticut last year approved a step increase in the minimum wage that put it at $8.70 an hour as of Jan. 1, 2014, and was scheduled to boost it to $9 an hour on Jan. 1, 2015. Malloy pushed for the increase to $10.10 on the heels of Obama's State of the Union speech in which the President pitched the hike.
“I am proud that Connecticut is once again a leader on an issue of national importance," Malloy said in a prepared statement following the vote Wednesday. "Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it’s also good for business.”
“This modest increase will give working families a boost, and it will contribute to our economy by getting just a little more money into the pockets of people who will spend it in their communities.”
Yet the Connecticut Restaurant Association, which represents an industry that employes 145,000 people, said it was disappointed in the Governor and Democrats in the House and Senate.
"Connecticut's restaurateurs will be forced to cut back on staff or increase menu prices — neither are easy decisions," the Association told The Courant.
"You cannot ignore the fact that there will be people who will lose their jobs," the Connecticut Post quoted Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield. McKinney is among a handful of Republicans vying for the party's nomination in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said, “This is an important workforce issue — raising the minimum wage will also benefit the 125,000 women across the state who are earning at or just above minimum wage, ensuring these hardworking women can improve their own economic security and better support their families."
House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, D-Southington said, “This minimum wage bill is not about statistics or numbers, it is about the people."
"We applaud our state lawmakers for their leadership on this issue, and for providing a strong example to the rest of the country and Congress," said Jim Horan, executive director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS). "This increase in the minimum wage will directly help 140,000 workers, many who are women with children, move out of poverty."According to CAHS, under Connecticut's current minimum wage of $8.70, a minimum wage worker working full time, 52 weeks a year, earns $18,096 a year. The federal poverty level for a family of three (for example a mother, and two children) is $19,790. With the increased minimum wage of $10.10, this same mother will now earn $21,008 a year.
"This higher wage means greater financial stability for families, reduced need for government safety net programs, and higher earnings for students who are working to pay for college," Horan said. "Connecticut is a leading state in addressing poverty and promoting economic success through progressive policy change, including the state EITC and paid sick days, and now this increase in the minimum wage."