June 23, 2008

Bristol lawmakers split on partisan lines over minimum wage hike override

Bristol’s lawmakers split along party lines Monday in a successful effort by the General Assembly to override the governor’s veto of a minimum wage hike.
“It’s an easy vote for me,” said state Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat who has represented the 31st District since 1992.
Colapietro’s vote in favor of raising the minimum wage was one of 25 in the Senate to override Gov. Jodi Rell’s veto. Twenty four votes were needed for the two-thirds majority required.
In the state House, the margin as 102-39, also one vote more than the minimum needed.
"There's a lot of people that are just barely making ends meet," said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat who favored the override. The rising cost of gas, utilities and food is making it even tougher for working people, he added.
The legislature’s decision ensures the current minimum hourly wage of $7.65 an hour rises to $8 beginning in January and to $8.25 an hour in 2010 – which will make it the highest in the country.
State Rep. Bill Hamzy, a Plymouth Republican whose 78th District includes part of Bristol, said he returned early from a family trip out of state in hopes of making the vote, but missed it.
"I would have voted to sustain the governor's veto," said Hamzy.
In fact, by not being present to vote to override, said Hamzy, he effectively did the same thing.
Hamzy said he's always voted to support increases in the minimum wage, but couldn't do it this time.
The state's minimum wage is among the highest in the nation, said Hamzy, which he said is appropriate. But he said increasing the minimum wage from $7.65 to $8 an hour in this economy wasn't the right thing to do.
"If we do one more thing to increase the cost of doing business in Connecticut, I don't think that's the right thing to do," said Hamzy.
Jill Fitzgerald, the Republican seeking to take over departing state Rep. Ron Burns’ 77th District seat, said she is disappointed in the override.
“The increase in the minimum wage is going to come back to taxpayers in the form of higher prices for the services that regular folks use,” Fitzgerald said. “This is at a time when our basic needs like groceries and gas are at an all time high.”
“I think that this is the type of legislation that, when extrapolated out, has much more of a negative than positive effect on the citizens and employers in our state,” she said.
Fitzgerald added that “taxpayers need to beware of these laws that sound like they are working for the people when in reality they just sound good in a headline, but really hurt us in the long run.”
Colapietro said that he’s backed higher wages for decades and isn’t about to stop.
He said that he doesn’t believe business has lost a single job because of increases to the minimum wage. In fact, he said, unless people start earning more, there won’t be anybody to purchase the goods and services that businesses offer.
Colapietro said that the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the insurance industry “don’t care about anybody but themselves” so they’re always pushing to keep wages down.
Nicastro said that sometimes when people are under financial stress and desperate, "they wind up doing things they shouldn't be doing."
Raising the minimum wage offers a better way, according to Nicastro, who represents the 79th District.
"We want people to work," said Nicastro. "We don't want 'em on welfare. We don't want 'em turning to criminal activity."
If the nation can send money to other countries to help people there, Nicastro said, surely society can help people at home.
Burns, who is not seeking reelection, voted against the minimum wage hike from the start. He could not be reached.
Rell called the Democratic-controlled legislature’s decision “seriously short-sighted” and likely to cause higher price, a loss of jobs and more costs for employers.
"Even as the national economic picture continues to darken, the legislature has opted to further cloud Connecticut's business environment,” Rell said.
“ Instead of making the state more business-friendly, instead of encouraging the small businesses that are the single greatest creator of jobs, instead of positioning Connecticut to succeed when the economy once more begins to grow, the legislature has taken a step backward,” the governor said.
“A minimum wage increase at this time does little but hurt the families it is intended to help," Rell said in a statement released after the vote.

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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe Bill should go work for $7.65 an our and see how far he gets!!....ya that's a challenge. Go do it for a month Billy Boy....let's see how well you make out.

Anonymous said...

The companies that were complaining about raising the minimum wage were multi million dollar companies like Lake Compounce, Burger King and the like. The small businesses in Connecticut are not upset about this because the majority of them already pay over the minimum wage.

The more money we can ensure Connecticut residents will make, the less State assistance they will need.

We are one of the richest states in the country. If there are businesses that can't afford to pay their workers $8.00 an hour they shouldn't be in business. If the financial aspects of their long term business plan doesn't allow for a fluctuation in the minimum wage then they aren't a stable business to begin with.

I'm disappointed in any State lawmaker that didn't vote for this increase.

Anonymous said...

Being new to this state I have a guestion to ask the politicians who voted for the minimum wage increase to $8.00. Who provides jobs? I think the answer falls in two broad groups. That is private sector businesses and public sector government. All the minimum wage does is to kill private sector business. This is not good business and has the effect of driving business either out of the state or eliminate jobs that were here. If a business can not afford to pay , it will not. This will lead to an exodus to the public sector which will increase are taxes because of the death crip public unions have on the taxpayers (assited by democrats like those colpinto and nicastrito fellows...not sure of either of their names...my apologies if I have not got them correct)).

It seems like the democrats don't understand this.

Anonymous said...

6:54am - sounds as though you are ranting rather than talking about anything that you know about - at least try to get the names correct.

Anonymous said...

Why don't they lower the state income tax and corporate tax then the raise in the minimum wage would not even be an issue....right?

Anonymous said...

Seems like the pundit that don't even know who he is talking about should try to live on $8.00 an hour. Obviously he needs some Mexican workers to exploit if he isn't already. He just doesn't know what hurt means. God forgive him.

Anonymous said...

There was a program in another state about a year ago where many lawmakers volunteered to try and survive for a month on food stamps, WIC and other state assistance programs. They were also required to live within a budget comparable to working a minimum wage job.

It was an eye opener for them. Maybe some of our lawmakers should do it for a month.

I agree that small businesses in CT should have tax breaks and other incentives from the DECD so that paying their employees a reasonable wage isn't such a burden.

Anonymous said...

To 9:11 am Welcome to the other republican cry babies blog. (As if you aren't a typical republican trying to play innocent.)

Anonymous said...

The very smallest businesses don't have to pay minimum wage because there is a loophole for businesses without many employees. It seems to me that the minimum wage helps keep employers from gross exploitation of their workforce.
Lake Compounce, now owned by a European company, always has a hand out looking for and collecting tax breaks from the state. Big deal if they have to pay workers a few cents an hour more. If anything, they'll pass it on to customers, and if you can pay $40 per person to go to that place, I think you can afford $41. Ditto for the fast food companies and other chains. Don't think for a minute they'll leave Connecticut over this.

Anonymous said...

Let's see .... We have the HIGHEST taxes in the NATION ... the Most expensive (NOT best )education system in the nation .... The most expensive fuels ,heat , elect. , etc.... and don't forget the Blight Nazis tearing down businesses : Sooo .... it's only right that we do EVERYTHING we can to damage private enterprise in this godless ( recent survey results ) Blue State of Connecticut .

Anonymous said...

I want to thank Comrade Colapietro for once again leading the way in driving more jobs away from Connecticut.

Anonymous said...

Aha the Colapietro haters were still waiting for his name to pop up (getting boring.) You should be paid mininum wage. Too bad you cry babies don't kbnow what your talking about. If you can name one business that left because of people living on eight dollars and hour name it. And your name calling doesn't work any more. I could call you a dictator!

Anonymous said...

I personally think that people like you who do nothing but name call can't run a business any way. If you run your business like you talk it's no wonder businesses can't survive. It's not the minimum wage it's people like you who don't know how to run a business.

Anonymous said...

Back to slavery would make these weirdo's happy! But they should be the slaves for a while.

Anonymous said...

The "slumlord" speaketh again!

Anonymous said...

June 25, 2008 5:20 AM:

You're an ignoramous. The minimum wage drives up all wages and drives up the cost of labor. But what do you union hack bums care anyway? You're so overpaid it's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

You're the ignoramous and you as usual don't know what your talking about! You are the overpaid one and for sure you're not paid the minmum wage. And why must you be such a namecalling jerk? Make ya feel good? No wonder you can't run a business.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:58 You gotta be one of those "Hatemongering ", "Union Haters", and famous namecaller, slave worker users. I bet you make more than minimum wage.