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6/11/2015 Minimum wage legislation headed to governor’s desk
STATE HOUSE – Legislation to raise Rhode Island’s minimum wage passed both chambers today and is now headed to the governor for her signature.

Sponsored by Sen. Erin P. Lynch and Rep. David A. Bennett, who were also the architects of the previous three minimum wage increases in Rhode Island, the legislation will raise the state’s minimum hourly wage from $9 to $9.60 effective Jan. 1, 2016.

“Putting more money in the pockets of those with the lowest wages helps them buy the basic goods and services their families need, but it also helps the economy, because those workers go out and spend that money locally, supporting local businesses. A stronger minimum wage will mean a stronger economy for Rhode Island,” said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston).

Said Senator Lynch (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston), “Raising the minimum wage helps people support themselves and reduces the likeliness that they’ll need government assistance programs. This is an increase that brings us more in line with our neighboring states, and helps our residents keep up with the costs of living in our region of the country, and will help Rhode Island’s economy keep up too.”

Legislative leaders pointed to the minimum wages of surrounding states as one reason Rhode Island needs another raise next year. The rate in Connecticut will also be $9.60 in 2016 and $10.10 in 2017. The rate in Massachusetts will rise to $10 in 2016 and $11 in 2017. (The Rhode Island legislation does not address 2017.)

After passing their own versions of the legislation last week, the House and Senate today each passed the other’s bill. The legislation will now be forwarded to the governor.

Once enacted, the legislation (2015-H 5074A, 2015-S 0194A) will bring about the fourth consecutive year of incremental minimum wage increases in Rhode Island, each time the result of legislation sponsored by Representative Bennett and Senator Lynch. Before their bill raising it from $7.40 to $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2013, it had not been increased since 2007. This January it rose from $8 to $9.

The House bill is cosponsored by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence), Rep. Raymond A. Hull (D-Dist. 6, Providence, North Providence) and Rep. James N. McLaughlin (D-Dist. 57, Cumberland, Central Falls). Cosponsors in the Senate are Sen. Juan M. Pichardo (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence) and Sen. Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). 

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923