NEW: Governor Makes Minimum Wage Hike Official
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The governor has signed legislation, passed last week by the General Assembly, raising Rhode Island’s minimum wage to $7.75 beginning January 1, 2013.
It is the first increase since the minimum wage was set at $7.40 in 2007 and represents a hike of about five percent.
Signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee were two bills -- 2012-S 2374A, by Sen. Erin P. Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick), and 2012-H 7396A, by Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick).
“Individuals who are working minimum wage jobs in the state, jobs that absolutely need to be done to keep many businesses open, need to earn a fair wage,” said Senator Lynch. “I don’t think the intent is to have somebody supporting a family on $7.75. We’re just looking to allow them to make just a little bit more money so they can make ends meet.”
Representative Bennett said that “This minimum wage hike, which is a five percent increase, still represents a significant lag over the increase in inflation during the past five years. But an increase is absolutely necessary to help the people at the bottom of the pay scale, who are doing vital jobs for our economy and are struggling to make ends meet.”
Of the New England states, Rhode Island has gone the longest without a minimum wage increase. During the past five years, the Massachusetts minimum wage has gone from $7.50 to $8, and Connecticut, which was at $7.65 in 2007, is at $8.25 today.
The current minimum wages of the other New England states are: Maine, $7.50; New Hampshire, $7.25; Vermont, $8.46.
The legislation was supported, during committee testimony, by a number of organizations, including The Economic Progress Institute, the RI Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Ocean State Action and the RI AFL-CIO.
Co-sponsors of the Senate bill are Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick), Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton), Sen. Beatrice A. Lanzi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) and Sen. Rhoda E. Perry (D-Dist. 3, Providence).
The House bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Guthrie (D-Dist. 28, Coventry), Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Arthur Handy (D-Dist. 18, Cranston) and Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston).