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Minimum wage rise back on Conn. legislative agenda

HARTFORD — For the second year in a row, Connecticut’s largest business group and labor advocates are digging in for a fight in the Legislature over raising the minimum wage.

Connecticut Working Families is backing legislation that would increase the minimum wage from $8.25 an hour to $9 on July 1 and to $9.75 a year later. The legislation also calls for automatic raises in the minimum wage tied to increases in the consumer price index, the federal measure of inflation.

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Automatic increases would avoid annual political fights, said backers of the legislation.

‘‘I don’t know why any legislature would want to have this fight every year,’’ said Lindsay Farrell, exec­utive director of Connecticut Working Families.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, which represents 10,000 businesses in the state, opposes the legislation. It said higher labor costs will force employers to limit hiring and ­increase prices.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy is noncommittal. A spokesman said in a statement that the governor supports ‘‘the ideals ­behind the legislation,’’ but also understands cost pressures facing businesses, particularly in the weak economy.

‘‘We must be mindful of the needs of businesses, especially given the current economic climate,’’ spokesman Andrew Doba said.

Doba said Malloy has signed into law two bills that benefit the poor and low-paid workers: the Earned Income Tax Credit and legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick leave.

Last year, legislation to raise Connecticut’s minimum wage passed the House of Representatives, but failed to come up in the Senate. Malloy said then that he was concerned that raising the minimum wage would hurt business in a fragile economy. Ten states tie minimum wage increases to inflation.

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