House to vote today on increasing minimum wage

House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, said Wednesday night after a Democratic majority caucus that he has the votes to pass a compromise minimum-wage increase Thursday — and a deal with Republicans to avoid a filibuster.

The $8.25 minimum wage would jump by 25 cents in each of the next two years, a significant retreat from Donovan’s original call for two 75-cent jumps and a more recent proposal for two 50-cent increases.

“I’m confident we’ll have the votes,” Donovan said.

Sharkey Cafero

House Majority Leader J. Brendan Sharkey (l) visiting House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero.

He also abandoned a proposal to automatically peg future increases to the cost of living, a provision that business groups, including the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, found more objectionable than a raise.

With those changes and a favorable Quinnipiac University poll released earlier Wednesday, Donovan said he has sufficient votes to pass a bill without any Republican support.

Donovan called off plans for an all-night debate that was to start at midnight after House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, assured him there would be no GOP filibuster if debate was postponed to midday Thursday.

“The minority leader came over and said they would rather come in tomorrow and do the vote then,” Donovan said.

Cafero said he told his caucus, whose questions had extended a debate on medical marijuana for seven hours to 11:16 p.m., the option was to assure Donovan of a “reasonable debate” on Thursday or stay the night.

“I said, ‘How do you want to work this? We can be here until dawn,’ ” Cafero said. He was told to offer Donovan a deal

Cafero and Donovan, despite being ideological opposites, each entered the General Assembly 20 years ago and are personal friends. Donovan said he accepted Cafero’s assurance of a reasonable debate.

They chatted briefly in the hallway connecting the side-by-side caucus room, then each returned to their caucus rooms.

The major question now is how will the Senate Democratic majority react? There appears to be no commitment for a vote, but passage in the House is likely to bring pressure on the Senate to follow suit.

“We’re having positive discussions with the Senate,” Donovan said shortly before midnight.

“There is no agreement, per se. We have not finished discussions,” Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, told The Mirror earlier in the evening.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and significant portions of the House and Democratic caucuses have not welcomed an election-year decision on a minimum wage increase, which is popular with voters and anathema to some business groups.

After passing the nation’s first state law requiring some private businesses to offer paid sick days last year, many Democrats preferred to wait a year to increase a minimum wage that already is nation’s fourth highest.