Sunday October 4th, 2015 7:51PM

Obama to push minimum wage hike Wed. in Conn.

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Striving to show momentum on a top legislative priority, President Barack Obama is appearing next week with Northeastern governors who back his push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and will pledge to lift the earnings of the lowest-paid workers in their states to at least the same level.

Obama planned an appearance Wednesday at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain with Democratic Govs. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, Peter Shumlin of Vermont and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

A higher minimum wage and an overhaul of immigration laws are Obama priorities, but it remains doubtful whether lawmakers will send him either piece of legislation this year, particularly when the entire House and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election.

A Senate-passed immigration bill is stalled in the House, while Republicans oppose raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, arguing that jobs will be eliminated, unemployment will rise and the economy will suffer if the government forces businesses to cut bigger paychecks for their workers.

The White House believes momentum for a higher minimum wage is building, however, and wants to keep the pressure on Congress, in part to help draw distinctions between the political parties for November's voters.

"It is time to give America a raise or elect more Democrats who will do it," Obama told Democrats at the party's winter meeting Friday in Washington.

Officials note that California, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island have raised the minimum wage since early 2013, when Obama first called on Congress to increase it. Obama recently used his executive power to enact a $10.10 minimum wage for the few hundred thousand people who work on federal contracts. Gap Inc., the clothing chain, recently announced plans to raise voluntarily the minimum hourly wage for its U.S. employees to $10 next year, a move Obama applauded.

The Northeastern governors are joining Obama's campaign, which is part of the president's 2014 strategy to act on his own to help the middle class when he thinks Congress isn't doing what it should.

Obama says a higher wage will help lift hard-working people out of poverty, giving them more money to spend and businesses more customers and higher profits.

"It is a virtuous cycle that we can create," he said Friday.

In Connecticut, the minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $9 an hour, from $8.70, effective Jan. 1, 2015, under legislation Malloy signed last June. After Obama called for a $10.10 minimum wage in his State of the Union address, Malloy called on state lawmakers to raise Connecticut's minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017.

Malloy, who has become an outspoken advocate for raising the minimum wage, said widening income inequality is hurting middle-class families and the economy.

"Part of tackling that critically important challenge is making sure that we recognize that a decent wage is good for workers and for business," he said Saturday.

Rhode Island's minimum wage increased by 25 cents to $8 on Jan. 1, 2014. Pending legislation would boost it even higher.

States can set their minimum wage above the federal minimum but not below it.

In Massachusetts, Patrick recently called for an increase in the state's $8-per-hour minimum wage. The state Senate recently passed a bill to raise it to $11 per hour by 2016; the House has indicated it will take up the measure by mid-April. Separately, advocates are pushing a ballot question for a $10.50 per hour wage.

"Raising the federal minimum wage will bring financial relief to millions of workers and their families, many of whom do jobs we could not live without," Patrick said Saturday.

In Vermont, the minimum is $8.73 an hour.

"Given the lack of progress shown by this Congress on this critical economic issue, I encourage governors across the country to take the lead and work to raise the minimum wage in their own states, as many of us are doing here in New England," Shumlin said Saturday. "We cannot stand idly by while hardworking Americans continue to struggle."

The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate last week again delayed debate on a bill by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 and adjust it annually after that to reflect inflation. Debate on the measure now is not expected until late March, at the earliest, after lawmakers return from a break.

Retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., introduced a similar measure in the Republican-controlled House that has gone nowhere.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 9 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 9 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 9 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 9 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
GOP leader regrets talk to white supremacists; party leaders rally around him
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
6:08PM ( 9 months ago )
Conviction of Putin foe sets off protest in Moscow
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
6:03PM ( 9 months ago )
More Georgians signing up for health insurance
A federal report says more Georgians have selected health insurance plans through a federally facilitated marketplace.
4:16PM ( 9 months ago )
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 1 week ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 1 week ago )