Leaders pushing for higher minimum wage in New York State
Governor Andrew Cuomo says he still wants to see New York raise the state minimum wage, even though President Obama is also calling for an increase at the federal level. But Cuomo does seem open to taking it out of the budget. Zack Fink has the latest.
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NEW YORK STATE – Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed raising the state's minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. It's an issue he feels strongly enough about that he included it in his state budget, which is due April 1st. That forces lawmakers to either accept the increase or delay passage of the budget.
But over the last week, Cuomo has indicated some flexibility on when exactly the raise gets done. And after a budget presentation at Lehman College in The Bronx Wednesday, he went even further.
Cuomo said, "I am committed to passing a minimum wage raise this session. The current plan is to get it done by April, which is the quote on quote budget negotiation period. But whether it's in the budget or the rest of the session, it'll get done by the end of the year and that is the goal."
Assembly Democrats and advocates for the middle class say that's not good enough. They want at least a $9 wage, which then rises with inflation. They also want to make sure it gets done now.
"It's critical that minimum wage is in this year's budget,” Assemblyman Karim Camara.
Assemblyman Camara says including the increase in the budget is the best way to force the Senate to act.
"My fear is that if we wait until the budget is over, we lose very significant leverage with the Senate coalition," Camara said.
With a power sharing arrangement in the State Senate, there are enough votes to pass a wage increase now. If they wait, the fear is that Republicans could block a bill from coming to the floor. Cuomo says President Obama's call for a federal increase to $9 an hour in his State of the Union Address has only complicated the matter.
"First of all, the Republican Congress is very unlikely to pass this quickly. Second of all, New York is a high cost state. We should have a higher minimum wage than other states," said Michael Kink of Strong Economy for All.
The last time state lawmakers raised the minimum wage was in 2004 and that was a three year phase in. Since then, New York State's minimum wage has only gone up ten cents and that was to comply with federal law.