Two Bills Aim to Push Minimum Wage to $15

03.06.2015
Issues & Policies

Two committee proposals could effectively increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour for Connecticut’s largest businesses by imposing a new and punitive tax.   
Here’s how:
The Labor Committee’s HB 6791 requires any employer with 250 or more employees, or any franchisor whose local franchisees collectively have 250 employees, to pay a punitive tax of $1 per hour for each hour worked by an employee that earns less than $15 per hour. 
A similar bill, SB 1044, in the Human Services Committee would apply the same punitive tax on employers with 500 or more employees, or franchisors whose local franchisees collectively have 500 employees. 
Both proposals are on shaky legal ground, but beyond that is the poor overall message they convey to Connecticut’s job creators. 
Proponents hold the mistaken belief that any individual working for a big box retailer or a franchise restaurant is receiving state services. Therefore, they reason, tax those employers to pay for those services.
But they miss the obvious: Many employees at these businesses are teens working their first jobs while still living with their parents; seniors seeking to keep busy out and make some extra cash among other people, or people working a second job to supplement their other income. 
Second, the bill only inquires about wages paid to employees.  It ignores the possibility that other non-wage benefits paid to employees could put total compensation well above $15.00 an hour. 
Why then should Connecticut’s job creators be punitively taxed based on a mistaken premise that their employees are all on state aid?    
Lawmakers should ask themselves: What would be the likely result of such a tax increase on these businesses? It’s not unreasonable to expect fewer jobs, fewer hours worked, or even franchises and retailers closing.
Proposals like HB 6791 and SB 1044 just add to the perception that Connecticut is not particularly welcome to job creators. 
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 | eric.gjede@cbia.com | @egjede

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