By Jacqueline Stoughton and Acadia Otlowski
President Barack Obama will visit CCSU Wednesday in an effort to garner support for the White House’s push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Gov. Daniel Malloy and three other New England governors will be joining him.
In a conference call between principal deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest, Governor Dannel Malloy of Conn., Governor Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, each governor laid out their state’s plan to raise the minimum wage to the $10.10 rate suggested by the president.
The main reason for the call was to announce the tour across the region, “which will highlight his commitment for expanding opportunity for every American” according to Earnest.
On Tuesday, Obama will release his budget for the upcoming fiscal year which Earnest said would include a number of bipartisan policies. On Wednesday, the president will appear at Central Connecticut State University with the governors of four states to push the raise in the minimum wage. On Thursday, the president will appear in Washington D.C. to discuss the merits of the Affordable Care Act.
“[We] Want to lift the middle class, women, and children out of poverty,” said Malloy in the call.
According to Malloy, 55 percent of minimum wage earners nationwide are women and he believes this statistic is much higher in Connecticut. Malloy also said that 13 percent of workers that earn minimum wage are over the age of 55, a percentage that Malloy feels is far too high.
Malloy also said that he hopes to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017. In keeping with that goal, Malloy outlined a plan that would raise the minimum wage slowly until it meets the projected goal.
“Raising the minimum wage can and should be done,” said Malloy. The governor’s labelled the initiative as having bipartisan support, although the campaign seems to be driven mainly by the democratic party.
“Republicans have been against this from the get-go, they’ve made this a partisan issue,” said Malloy.
Malloy noted that taxpayers would receive a refund on gas and car taxes, money which he hopes will go directly back into the economy.
Many of the governors have lost faith in Congress to deal with issues such as minimum wage, according to Shumlin.
“We are working hard to work with the president to pull ourselves out of this economy,” said Shumlin, who said while a lot of progress is being made towards improving the economy, the middle-class is being left behind.
“Wouldn’t there be strength in governors working together?” asked Shumlin, who sees the higher minimum wage initiative as a way to improve the economy without the approval of Congress. “Many states fear raising their minimum wage bc neighboring states won’t raise theirs.
Shumlin said he is thrilled to be helping not only the president, but the states and workers in the region. Shumlin hopes to raise the minimum wage in Vermont similar to Connecticut. Vermont will raise its minimum wage by one- third each year.
“Every society wants a strong middle class, out middle class is under tremendous stress,” said Chaffee.
Free tickets for the general public to the president’s speech will be available in Detrick Gym, Kaiser at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.