Editor’s note: Candidates for office in the November election are invited to submit opinion pieces about their platforms.
Connecticut’s minimum wage is $10.10 which is one of the highest in the country. Only Washington D.C., ($11.50), Massachusetts ($11), Washington ($11) and California ($10.50) are higher. At various points during the past legislative session, there were calls from many of our Democratic representatives to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage even more — to $15 an hour. To put it simply, I am opposed. Let me explain.
Some say an increase is necessary because Connecticut’s $10.10 an hour is not a “living wage.” From my perspective, I do not believe that the minimum wage was ever intended to be an employee’s wage ceiling, but rather a floor. It is a starting point, not an ending point. Further, what is deemed to be a “living wage” is quite a subjective test. Surely the expenses of a single female are less than those of a single mother, therefore what is determined by each to be a “living wage” is likely different. Additionally, in my opinion, it is not the government’s job to ensure anyone that what they subjectively determine to be a “living wage” is what an employer is statutorily required to pay them for their work.
An increase in the minimum wage to $15 has a significant likelihood of hurting the balance of the existing hourly workforce. Take, for example, the average Connecticut factory worker, with a few years of experience. Let's say they already make $14 per hour (based upon their experience and work performance). If the minimum wage increased to $15, the $14 per hour employee effectively just got a pay decrease, thus reasonably leading to their own clamor for an increase in their wages based upon an arbitrary increase in the minimum wage, as opposed to an increase in productivity or sales (where a wage increase would be for merit).
Ultimately, an increase in the minimum wage actually hurts those that it was to protect. A perfect example is the local sandwich shop. It orders bread from a vendor that employs minimum wage workers and now, because their payroll costs more, the vendor charges more for their bread. The same would be the case with the meat, cheese and fixings used to complete the sandwich. Ultimately, because of the increase in costs of sandwich components, as well as perhaps the increased payroll for its own minimum wage employees, the sandwich shop would need to charge the consumer (perhaps that minimum wage worker, recently buoyed by the mandated increase in pay) a higher sandwich price, and thus the desired “living wage” of $15 becomes something higher, resulting in cyclical calls for additional increases to the minimum wage.
While people and businesses are fleeing our state in droves, taking with them their money and jobs, raising the minimum wage is not a solution. In fact, it is counterintuitive to a striving economy, and detrimental to business. In the simple examples above, the valued and experienced employee has suffered a pay decrease; the minimum wage employees got raises, but their cost of living increased exponentially. These are just a few of the reasons why Connecticut’s minimum wage should not be raised, and as I ask the voters in the 103rd District (covering parts of Cheshire, Southington, and Wallingford) to consider my candidacy for state representative, I ask what does your particular legislator think about the minimum wage? Are they for more government intrusion into the employer / employee relationship? Do they believe that more government regulation will lead to more businesses coming to, and staying in Connecticut? I know that I am not in support of any of those things as I see where it has gotten us during the Malloy administration. For more information about me and my campaign, please feel free to check out my website at www.DianePagano.com.
Diane Pagano is the Republican candidate for state representative, running in the 103rd District, which covers portions of Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford.