Governor Dan McKee, joined by Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, Representative David A. Bennett and Senator Ana B. Quezada, today signed into law legislation (2021-H 5130A, 2021-S 0001aa) which raises the minimum wage in Rhode Island from $11.50 to $15 over the next four years.
“Raising the minimum wage will benefit thousands of working Rhode Islanders and families across our state,” said Governor Dan McKee in a statement. “This boost in wages will go back into our local economy, supporting small businesses and our communities. I commend Representative Bennett, Senator Quezada and all the advocates who worked hard to get this bill across the finish line. This is an important step in the effort to help lift Rhode Island families out of poverty and support many of our essential workers who put themselves at risk to keep our state running during the pandemic.”
The bill will increase the minimum wage from $11.50 to:
- $12.25 on January 1, 2022;
- $13 on January 1, 2023;
- $14 on January 1, 2024 and
- $15 on January 1, 2025.
“Rhode Islanders deserve a living wage, and this legislation will help get us there,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos in a statement. “I want to thank Representative Bennett and Senator Quezada for their leadership along with Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Ruggerio for moving this important legislation forward. The pandemic has shown that many in our state don’t have a safety net, and raising the minimum wage will give our residents a greater sense of security.”
“At last, Rhode Island is on the path toward breaking the cycle of poverty for those at the bottom of the wage spectrum. Minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation over the decades, and our neighboring states have already taken this step toward making it closer to a living wage,” said Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), House bill sponsor in a statement. “This legislation is a long time coming, the result of many years of advocacy by many on behalf of working people. I’m very grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly and the governor for enacting this bill for the sake of hardworking Rhode Islanders, many of whom do critical work in health care and other essential services, and who were asked to put their own lives at risk during the worst of the pandemic. Today, we are committing to a more livable wage for our constituents, because working families deserve the dignity of being able to support themselves on their wages.”
“Raising the minimum wage lifts people out of poverty, particularly women and people of color who are vastly overrepresented at the bottom of the wage scale,” said Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence), Senate bill sponsor in a statement. “It will mean fewer children spending hours alone every day because their parents work two or three jobs to pay the rent. It will mean fewer people suffering from homelessness or food insecurity. It will mean more money spent at local stores and businesses, and more reliable income for landlords. Getting individuals and families to a level of income that more closely aligns with today’s cost of living will also ease the demand on public assistance. Raising the minimum wage makes our state a safer, healthier and more prosperous place to live.”
The Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training estimates that the new law will raise wages for approximately 70,000 workers by 2022 and approximately 140,000 workers by 2025. Rhode Island now joins Massachusetts and Connecticut in passing legislation to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15.