In a bit of a surprise (and in a busy day for employment law in Connecticut), Governor Rell vetoed a bill which would have increased the minimum wage to $8/hour starting Jan. 1, 2009 (and $8.25/hour in 2010).  The veto to House Bill 5105 (H.B. 5105) also effectively kills Senate Bill 55 (S.B. 55) which dealt with an increase in tip credit.  Gov. Rell had approved of an increase two years ago so it was not unreasonable to expect her to follow suit here.

She released a press release, available here which stated, in part:

“There is no doubt that families, particularly low income families, have been hurt by our strained economy,” Governor Rell said. “We all feel the pinch when buying groceries, filling up the gas tank and heating our homes. Yet we must also realize that Connecticut employers face these same financial pressures and are having an extremely difficult time making ends meet.

“We cannot take a chance on hurting families or employers by signing another minimum wage increase into law at this time,” the Governor said. “Businesses have told me that they would not be hiring if the wage hike went into effect. Employers that are now operating on the margin may be forced to close or leave Connecticut to more business-affordable states, resulting in job losses that will undermine the already fragile foundation of financial security for thousands of families.”

I noted earlier this month that the minimum wage bill passed both the House and Senate in overwhelming majorities. The bill passed the House, 106-45, and the Senate, 25-11.  An override needs 101 votes in the House and 24 votes in the Senate.  Thus, it is possible that the General Assembly will reconsider this bill in a special session and overrule the veto.  Indeed, the Hartford Courant is reporting this afternoon that legislators are already clamoring for one.

House Majority Leader Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, said Democrats may attempt an override.

"We had good, strong votes in both chambers," Donovan said. …

"I’m disappointed Gov. Rell would deny a modest increase to our lowest-paid workers in tough economic times," he said. Donovan said he could not recall the last time a Connecticut governor vetoed a minimum-wage increase.

Thus, until and unless the General Assembly overrides the veto, minimum wage in Connecticut will remain at $7.65/hour

(H/T: Hartford Business Journal)