IDC pitches wage bill to Republicans
By Adam Wisnieski
It’s a tough sell, but state Sen. Jeff Klein thinks he’s the right guy to convince Senate Republicans to pass a bill that raises the state’s minimum wage.
On May 15, the Democratic-controlled Assembly overwhelmingly passed legislation sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver that would raise the state’s minimum wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour.
Mr. Klein leads the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of four senators who defected from the Senate Democratic Conference in early 2011, and is carrying the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“I don’t think we’d even be having this conversation if I weren’t carrying this bill,” he said. “That’s the reason why I picked up the bill.”
Mr. Klein said raising the state’s minimum wage is an issue of fairness. Mr. Klein argues that over the last five years, the cost of living has skyrocketed while wages have remained stagnant.
The IDC released a report last month to illustrate how raising the wage would affect the state.
Mr. Klein argues the cost of staple food products like milk, bread and cheese have doubled in price since 2004 and the cost of heating oil, gas and rent has jumped since 2007. Families living on minimum-wage salaries are in poverty or on the brink of poverty and Democrats argue it’s the state’s responsibility to change that.
But Mr. Klein’s pitch to Republicans is a fiscal one.
The IDC’s report estimates that the state would see an influx of $600 million in spending if the minimum wage were increased by $1.25. It says that the raise, in turn, would create 4,800 new jobs.
“Lets face it. If somebody is making the minimum wage and they get an increase in their salary, they’re going to spend it. They’re not going to put it in a 401k,” he said.
But some Republicans disagree.
KeywordsAdam Wisnieski, Jeff Klein, Republican Party, Democratic Party, minimum wage, legislation, Independent Democratic Conference, politics