Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants to increase Connecticut's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, the same rate the president proposed for the federal minimum wage.
The Democrat said the increase would make Connecticut's wage the highest in the country.
Connecticut's minimum wage increased from $8.25 to $8.70 on Jan. 1. A second increase to $9 is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
Malloy, who has yet to announce his re-election plans, said an even higher wage is needed to "tackle the growing income inequality" that's hurting the middle class.
"Part of tackling that critically important challenge is making sure that we recognize that a good and decent wage is good for workers and good for business," said Malloy at a news conference in Bridgeport. "For too long, the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. As studies have shown, the workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase brought home 46 percent of their household's total wage and salary income in 2011. When workers earn more money, businesses will have more customers. This modest boost will help those earning the least to make ends meet."
The proposal would be considered this session by the General Assembly, which is scheduled to convene Wednesday.
Business groups have opposed previous increases, arguing a higher wage adds to the high cost of doing business in Connecticut.
House Republican Leader Larry Cafero said in a statement Tuesday that the minimum wage increase announcement "has nothing to do with thoughtful public policy and everything to do with election year politics."
"Increasing the minimum wage again - Connecticut just raised it 33 days ago - may test well with people answering poll questions at home but it does not sit right with people who create jobs, namely small business owners. Hiking the minimum wage when businesses continue to struggle to meet payrolls has proven to be as mistake. This also has a cascading effect on small businesses because owners will have to hike wages for everyone else they employ," Cafero said.
According to numbers provided by the governor's office, of 1.7 million people working in Connecticut, there are between 70,000 to 90,000 employees earning minimum wage.
In the governor's proposal, a person working 40 hours per week would earn $21,008 per year while the federal poverty guideline for a family of four is $23,850.
U.S. Rep Elizabeth Esty, CT-5, said in a statement Tuesday that she "applauded" the increase and said Malloy's actions "mirror" what she is trying to accomplish in congress with the Fair Minimum Wage Act.
"This is about fairness for Connecticut and fairness for all American workers. Connecticut is doing the right thing by continuing to lead the country on fair wages, and we shouldn't be punished by other states that are in a race to the bottom," Esty said.
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.