Democrats and businesses are sparing over raising the state’s minimum wage to $9 an hour and indexing further increases to the rate of inflation, Gannett’s Haley Viccaro reports.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat, D-Manhattan, advanced legislation to increase the minimum wage to $9 hour and index future raises with inflation. The 27-member Democratic Conference supports the bill, as do Assembly Democrats.
The Legislature’s Puerto Rican & Hispanic Task Force is holding a news conference today to support the bill.
“The reality is, there seems to be a difficulty with the Legislature coming back and actually making sure that the minimum wage is a livable wage,” said Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at a news conference yesterday. “If we index it, we take care of not only raising our poorest workers in a level out of poverty, but by indexing it we allow for the natural course to go on.”
The legislation would ensure that people in the state who earn the minimum wage aren’t impacted by pay cuts due to stagnate wages and increased costs of living, Stewart-Cousins said.
“This particular bill, which calls for $9 and then $9.50 the following year and indexing will help 1.1 million New Yorkers, 11 percent of the workforce will be assisted by this,” Espaillat said. “The impact of it goes way behind the folks that are going to be making the minimum wage, it goes into the local economies across the state.
The Democratic Conference wrote a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein urging them to support their proposed legislation.
“We still haven’t made a decision as to whether expanding the minimum wage is going to be counterproductive to job creation,” Skelos said to reporters before the Democratic Conference meeting. “We are going to discuss it and see if it is doable.”
“I think we need to increase the minimum wage quickly, I think it should be part of the budget,” Klein said. “Clearly I have made the case time and time again that this is a revenue generator, this is going to pump $600 million back into the economy and create 5,000 jobs, so yes I believe it should be part of the budget.”
Unshackle Upstate, a Rochester-based business group, wrote yesterday to lawmakers asking them to oppose a minimum-wage increase. The group cites a Cornell study that claims a minimum-wage increase would lead to job losses.
“Contrary to the recent report published by the Assembly Majority, there is in fact clear evidence that increasing the minimum wage will lead to a loss of jobs especially among low wage workers,” the group wrote.