Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut state lawmakers have become the first in the country to pass legislation increasing the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, the same rate President Barack Obama wants for the federal minimum wage.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy applauded the move, saying he’ll sign it Thursday in New Britain, where Obama appeared to press for a $10.10 national wage.

In back-to-back votes Wednesday, the bill passed the House of Representatives, 87-54; and the Senate, 21-14.

The National Employment Law Project said Connecticut is the first state to pass a $10.10 minimum wage bill. Similar proposals are also being considered by lawmakers in Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and other states.

Republicans roundly criticized the bill, saying it would hurt struggling small business owners and stymie job growth.