The Chamber opposes the legislation.
The public hearing on this bill was held Thursday, Feb. 16, but there is still time to submit testimony. You can do so by emailing your statement to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like assistance in submitting your own testimony, contact me at the chamber at 203-757-0701.
Here is the transcript of my testimony:
February 17, 2017
STATEMENT OF DAVID KRECHEVSKY, PUBLIC POLICY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR for the WATERBURY REGIONAL CHAMBER, to the LABOR AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES COMMITTEE IN OPPOSITION TO HOUSE BILL 6208: AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE.
Senator Gomes, Senator Miner, Representative Porter, and members of Labor and Public Employees Committee: My name is David Krechevsky, and I am the director of public policy and economic development for the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on this legislation.
The Chamber, which serves 14 communities in Greater Waterbury and represents the interests of nearly 1,000 member businesses in matters of public policy, opposes House Bill 6208, which seeks to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. If enacted, this bill would increase the state’s minimum wage by 50 percent over a five-year period, and then require calculating future annual increases based on the inflation rate. This would occur on top of the significant increases in the wage the state already has imposed over the past two decades. In fact, from 1999 to 2017, a period of 18 years, the minimum wage increased 14 times and by nearly 79 percent. The bill under consideration would bring the total increase to 165.5% over 23 years.
I think we can all agree that the state economy has not produced a comparable result over the past 18 years, and while we hope the economy will improve, it is highly unlikely to do so at a similar rate. This places a tremendously unfair burden on businesses already faced with the high cost of operating in Connecticut.
More importantly, the race to a $15 minimum wage is a job killer. Every member of the General Assembly at one time or another has stated the need to create jobs. Well, the greatest job creators are not major corporations, but small businesses. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create 7 of every 10 new jobs nationwide and employ just over half of the nation’s private-sector workforce. Small businesses, however, have a slim profit margin, which they use to reinvest in their businesses. Forcing them to increase wages in a way that is not supported by the marketplace or the economy will require them to make difficult choices, and almost certainly will result in jobs being eliminated, prices being increased, or a combination of both.
But it is not just small businesses that are affected by increases in the minimum wage. Deacon Paul Iadarola, executive direct of the St. Vincent DePaul Mission in Waterbury, says nonprofit organizations like his also are adversely affected. His organization runs a thrift shop, a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen, and employs a total of 56 people. Of those, only 10 make more than $15 an hour. His organization’s various operations are funded in part by state grants, and those grants have been cut over the past few years.
Requiring nonprofit organizations like St. Vincent DePaul and others to pay $15 an hour while they are trying to cope with budget cuts will force them to reduce staff. Deacon Iadarola noted that, when the state raised the minimum wage to $9 in 2015, he was forced to halt a program that hired and trained high school students to work in his thrift shop because his organization could no longer afford to pay them.
Deacon Iadarola also said his organization already pays more than the state minimum wage, starting employees at $10.50 per hour, and paying $12 per hour for employees with a bachelor’s degree. But that is a choice St. Vincent DePaul made based on what it could afford, and not something mandated by the state. Boosting the wage to $15 will make it impossible for the organization to retain all of its staff.
It is for these reasons that the Chamber and its membership strongly urge the committee to reject HB 6208 and any other bill seeking to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Thank you for your time and consideration.