Governor Andrew Cuomo says he is committed to raising the state's minimum wage, although not necessarily by the April 1 budget deadline. While he has attached the increase to his state budget, Cuomo is now signaling that he's open to removing it from his fiscal plan. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed raising the state's minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. It's an issue he feels strongly enough about that he included it in his state budget, which is due April 1. That forces lawmakers to either accept the increase or delay passage of the budget.
But over the last week, Cuomo has indicated some flexibility on when exactly the raise gets done. And after a budget presentation at Lehman College in The Bronx Wednesday, he went even further.
"I am committed to passing a minimum wage raise this session," he said. "The current plan is to get it done by April, which is the quote unquote 'budget negotiation period.' But whether it's in the budget or in the rest of the session, it has to be done by the end of the year, and that's the goal."
Assembly Democrats and advocates for the middle class say that's not good enough. They want at least a $9 wage, which then rises with inflation. They also want to make sure it gets done now.
"It's critical that minimum wage is in this year's budget," said Assemblyman Karim Camara, who said that including the increase in the budget is the best way to force the Senate to act.
"My fear is that if we wait until the budget is over, we lose very significant leverage with the Senate coalition," he said.
With a power-sharing arrangement in the state Senate, there are enough votes to pass a wage increase now. If they wait, the fear is that Republicans could block a bill from coming to the floor.
Cuomo said that President Obama's call for a federal increase to $9 an hour in his State of the Union address has only complicated the matter.
"First of all, the Republican House is very unlikely to pass this quickly," said Michael Kink of Strong Economy for All. "Second of all, New York is a high-cost state. We should have a higher minimum wage than other states."
State lawmakers haven't raised the minimum wage was in 2004, and that was a three-year phase in. Since then, New York State's minimum wage has only gone up 10 cents, and that was to comply with federal law.