Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday vetoed the City Council's recently passed prevailing wage bill, arguing it would do more harm than good.
The bill would force buildings where the city is a major tenant and those receiving city subsidies to pay higher wages to service workers like janitors.
Bloomberg also discussed the living wage bill, which is expected to be passed by the City Council next week. That bill would require any firm receiving a million dollars or more in city subsidies to pay its employees at least $10 an hour.
Mayor Bloomberg said both bills are bad for business and vowed not to sign legislation that he thinks will hurt job creation and taxpayers.
"Those bills, the so-called living and prevailing wage bills, are a throwback to an era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked rather than a garden to be cultivated," Bloomberg said. "In those days the government took the private sector for granted. We cannot afford to go back to those days, we cannot take our economy for granted."
He argued that taxpayers will be subsidizing private-sector salaries and that the bills may make businesses not want to invest in the city.
“I will not sign legislation, no matter how well-intended, that that hurts job creation and taxpayers,” the mayor said. “The council wants to take revenue from owners and give it to a select group of employees. That’s not the way the free market works.”
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is normally a political ally of the mayor, has said she has enough votes to override the mayor's veto.
“I’m very disappointed in the mayor’s decision,” Quinn said on Wednesday.
The speaker said the city already interferes in the free market, by providing hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies, which she said should come with some responsibilities.
She also pointed out that in 2002 the mayor signed similar living wage legislation affecting 60,000 workers.
“The mayor signed it in 2002, when we were in the midst of a recession. It did nothing to hold back New York City’s economic growth,” said Quinn.
Bloomberg said if his vetoes get overridden, he will fight the legislation in court.