Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy in 2012. / J. Scott Applewhite, AP
Despite strong Republican opposition, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday signed into law legislation that will increase the state's minimum wage to $10.10 - the highest in the nation.
Connecticut's minimum wage is now $8.70 per hour. The new law will increase the minimum wage to $9.15 next January, $9.60 in January 2016 and $10.10 in January 2017.
The $10.10 minimum wage will be higher than California's $10 minimum wage, which will take effect in January 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
"Increasing the minimum wage is not just good for workers, it's also good for business," Malloy said in a prepared statement. "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."
Connecticut Republicans blasted the governor for supporting the new law.
No Republican state senators or House representatives voted to support the legislation when it was approved by the General Assembly on Wednesday, says Pat O'Neil, a spokesman for House Republicans.
O'Neil says Malloy, a Democrat, and Democratic legislators raised the minimum wage to support initiatives by President Obama to raise the federal minimum wage.
A higher minimum wage will not help the nearly 50% of 16- to 19-year-olds who live in the state's largest city, Bridgeport, and are unemployed, O'Neil says.
"If they can't get a job at $8.70 an hour, how do they find a job at $10.10 an hour?" O'Neil says.
The new law will "clearly hurt" Connecticut businesses and "make them less profitable," he says.
Previous state legislation had already increased the minimum wage for next January, so a further increase in the new law is not needed, he says.
O'Neil says Malloy was opposed to raising the minimum wage in 2012.
But Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba says the governor has been a proponent of minimum-wage increases.
"The governor has long been a supporter of a good and decent minimum wage, and to argue otherwise is simply not true," Doba says.
After Malloy was elected Connecticut's governor in November 2010, he "made it a priority to pass the nation's first and only state-based paid sick-leave legislation," Doba says. "He also passed an earned income tax credit over Republican opposition.
"The recent effort to increase the state's minimum wage builds on those efforts and has once again made Connecticut a leader in lifting up working families."
As of Jan. 1, says the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
Nineteen states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have minimum wages equal to the federal minimum wage.
Four states and American Samoa have minimum wages below the federal wage.
New Hampshire repealed its minimum wage in 2011, the National Conference of State Legislatures says, but the state mandates that wages lower than the federal minimum wage cannot be paid.
The New Hampshire House this month voted to increase the minimum wage in the state to $8.25 next year and $9 in 2016 and to tie future annual increases to the Consumer Price Index. The bill now goes to the state's Republican-led Senate.
Five states have not established a state minimum wage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
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