Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States….
President Obama will fly to Connecticut today as part of his campaign to promote a $10.10 minimum wage. Glued to his side will be Governor Dannel Malloy, whom the President will call a champion in the effort to promote a fairer minimum wage.
This is the same Governor Malloy who failed to support a modest increase in the minimum wage just two years ago.
In January 2012, key Democratic members of the Connecticut Legislature, with strong support from Connecticut’s unions, proposed raising the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9.00 an hour on July 1, 2013 and then to a rate of $9.75 on July 1, 2014.
Governor Malloy was quick to throw cold water on the plan telling reporters, “I’m not slamming any doors. I’m not saying ‘No’ but I’ll watch the debate and perhaps reach a conclusion subsequently.”
Malloy’s pronouncement that he would “reach a conclusion subsequently” was a death sentence for the legislation and without the Governor’s support the business community, with the help of the Republicans and some Democrats, easily killed the proposal.
A year later, in February 2013, Legislators tried again to push legislation increasing the minimum wage and again Governor Malloy failed to step forward to support the proposal. However this time, late in the legislative session when it was clear that Democrats would pass the bill away, Malloy did a 180 and announced that he would support a “compromise” on a minimum wage increase.
With the 2014 election year in sight, Malloy’s transformation on the issue was nearly complete.
On the last day of December 2013, Malloy held a State Capitol press conference to brag about the extraordinarily positive impact Connecticut’s new minimum wage law would have when it takes effect at midnight that night.
“As the clock strikes 12 in this state, many people … will actually lift themselves out of poverty,” Malloy said during a press event and rally.
Malloy was referring to the mandated .45 cent an hour increase in the State’s minimum wage that will be taking effect.
However, as some may know, the federal poverty level for a family of three in Connecticut is about $18,400. For the 70,000 to 90,000 Connecticut residents living on minimum wage, a full-time job only brings in $17,160 per year.
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman joined Malloy in “celebrating” the raise in the minimum wage. It would, according to Wyman, mean Connecticut’s minimum wage workers would make an extra $18 hours a week as long as they don’t miss a single hour of work.
That increase translates into an extra $936 a year — leaving most minimum wage families still living below the poverty line.
But many politicians believe that electoral success can be achieved through rhetoric and hyperbole…
And the President of the United States is coming to Connecticut to try to bolster Malloy’s political re-election dreams.
You can read more about Malloy’s transformation on the minimum wage in these two Wait, What? blog posts,