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Good news for Connecticut’s governor: He just got the highest state minimum wage

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) speaks to the media after he and other governors met with President Obama at the White House last month. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), second from left, had a testy exchange with Malloy at the news conference. (Mark Wilson/Getty)

Connecticut’s Gov. Dan Malloy can breathe a little easier: he just landed the minimum wage hike he’s been pushing so hard for.

The bill, approved by lawmakers on Wednesday, will raise the minimum wage by 2017 to $10.10, the highest among any state and the level President Obama has pushed federally. Malloy plans to sign it Thursday night at New Britain’s Café Beauregard, the same place he appeared at earlier this month to promote such a hike with other New England governors and Obama.

Malloy (D) is up for reelection this year and a poll earlier this month showed him tied with leading Republican hopeful Tom Foley. That poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University, showed something else of note: Nearly 3-to-1 support for a minimum wage hike among voters. Support won out by huge margins regardless of age or gender, losing only among one demographic, Republicans, who opposed a hike 53 percent to 41 percent. The $10.10 level was the preferred increase among all voters who said they supported a hike.

Despite approving an increase just last year, Malloy has led a high-profile effort for another hike. Earlier this month he hosted President Obama as he sought to jump-start his domestic agenda with a pitch for the wage hike. A few weeks earlier, Malloy even briefly shared the national spotlight on the issue due to an impromptu testy exchange with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal, a Republican, accused the president of “waving the white flag of surrender” on boosting the economy by promoting a wage hike, which Malloy described as “the most insane statement I’ve ever heard.”

Connecticut would become the first state to pass a $10.10 minimum wage, but it may not be the last. Some states tie the minimum wage to inflation and could beat Connecticut if economic conditions are right, and others are considering similar hikes. As of Monday, bills to raise the minimum wage were pending in  34 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit focused on research related to low- and middle-income workers, estimated that a federal proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by mid-2016 would affect 227,000 — roughly one in seven — Connecticut residents.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. to reflect newer state data.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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