Minimum wage a done deal?
By Adam Wisnieski
It looks like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached a tentative agreement on raising the state’s minimum wage to $9 per hour by 2016.
As of press time, the deal was not official, but various news outlets reported an agreement to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 per hour next year; to $8.75 in 2015 and then to $9 in 2016.
Democrats and low-wage workers have been pushing for an increase above the $7.25 federally mandated rate for some time. Republicans have argued it would hurt businesses by forcing employers to pay wages they could not afford. Democrats have argued that raising the minimum wage would inject more money into the economy because low-wage earners would have more to spend. It is unclear what Republicans got in exchange for supporting the wage increase.
Late last week, a group of Bronx clergy members rallied in front of the Bronx County Courthouse, calling on state Sen. Jeff Klein to support raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour, tied to inflation.
The group called on Mr. Klein to support the bill that passed the Assembly two weeks ago. Mr. Klein has supported a raise in the minimum wage to $8.50 and $8.75, but he has not said if he supports $9 per hour. He had been pushing to have the minimum wage hike included in the budget, which seemed to be holding up the budget deal as of press time.
Until recently it looked as if Mr. Klein’s proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $8.50 or $8.75 would be a success if it passed, but the heat has been on him to get behind $9 per hour. Last year, he pushed Speaker Sheldon Silver’s bill in the Senate to raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50. He tried to convince Senate Republicans to support it by saying it would help inject money into the state’s economy. The Republicans didn’t budge.
Then Gov. Andrew Cuomo one-upped the legislature early this year, proposing an increase to $8.75. But President Barack Obama blew everyone out of the water during his State of the Union when he called for a raise in the federal minimum wage to $9 per hour.
Now, everyone’s on the $9 per hour bandwagon though we’ll see if Senate Democrats are upset the rate may not reach $9 until 2016.
Keywordsandrew cuomo, minimum wage, jeff klein, christine quinn, andrew cohen, city council, reform,