Assembly Democrats are bumping up their plan the hike the state’s minimum wage, calling for an increase to $9 an hour after President Barack Obama called for increasing the federal rate to that level.
In a statement, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said he would amend his bill to create a jump in the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour to match Obama’s proposal, while tying future increases to the rate of inflation. Silver had been pushing for an initial jump to $8.50.
Obama called for an increase in his State of the Union on Tuesday.
“I am heartened by his rousing endorsement to raise the wage and tie it to the cost of living,” Silver said in a statement. “However, New York cannot wait while Washington weighs the pros and cons of a federal shift in the minimum wage. We must act now.”
Silver started the minimum-wage push on the state level last year, when he unveiled his plan to increase the wage in remarks before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address. Cuomo put his own proposal in his proposed budget this year, calling for an increase to $8.75 but not indexing the rate to inflation.
The amended Assembly bill would increase the hourly rate to $9 beginning in 2014. Each year after that, the rate would increase based on the Consumer Price Index’s inflation calculations.
UPDATE: A pair of business groups — Unshackle Upstate and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business — are pushing back against Silver’s updated proposal. Both issued separate states knocking the proposal.
“Speaker Silver’s new minimum wage proposal demonstrates his lack of regard for struggling job creators and unemployed New Yorkers,” Unshackle executive director Brian Sampson said in a statement. “By increasing the state’s minimum wage to $9 an hour and indexing it to inflation, employment opportunities will vanish, jobs will be lost and businesses will suffer. Consumers will also pay the price for this ill-advised proposal as the cost of goods will increase.”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said Skelos believes it might be best to wait for the federal government to act.
“Since New York’s minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum wage, Senator Skelos agrees with the Governor that it should be set at the federal level,” the spokesman, Scott Reif, said in a statement. “In light of President Obama’s proposal and our intention to keep New York businesses from being put at a competitive disadvantage, it may be best to wait and see what the federal government does before the state acts.”