Candidates split by party line on minimum wage hike

Providence mayor and candidate for governor Angel Taveras said he wants Rhode Island to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Taveras said he wants to phase in the increase over four years. After that, future increases would be automatically tied to the cost of living.

The state's minimum wage is currently $8 an hour.

One of his Democratic opponents, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, has proposed automatic minimum wage increases tied to the cost of living.

"Gina agrees with what our entire federal delegation is fighting for at the federal level which is to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015 and index it to the cost of living," Raimondo campaign manager Eric Hyers said in a statement Thursday.

Republican candidate Ken Block criticized Taveras' plan Thursday, saying a wage increase would raise business costs and lead to fewer jobs.

Block faces Cranston Mayor Allan Fung in the GOP primary.

"The real issue in Rhode Island is unemployment and getting our workforce prepared with the necessary skill set for the ever changing workforce. It is quite evident that raising the minimum wage would not solve these problems," Fung said in a statement.

Legislation pending in the state's General Assembly would increase the wage to $9 next year.

NBC 10 News contributed to this report.