A possible compromise deal on raising the state's minimum wage is being rejected by advocates on both sides of the contentious issue, an argument that is holding up the passage of the state budget, which is due next week. Zack Fink filed the following report.
A small group of protesters gathered outside the State Business Council offices in downtown Albany.
For weeks, business groups have been a fighting a proposed minimum wage increase to $15. But as NY1 reported on Wednesday, a compromise deal is in the works that would raise the wage to $15 an hour in New York City and downstate, but only going up to $12 or $13 upstate.
"It's not acceptable, the idea that upstate New York by 2021 could get $12 an hour, which, in my way of thinking, institutionalizes poverty for the folks who are working for these low wages," said Mark Emanatian of Citizen Action.
The proposed compromise has also failed to win over business groups, which have argued that $15 is not based on any sound economic analysis, and is instead a political number.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has spent parts of the last month traveling the state in a union-funded RV promoting $15 an hour.
"We know that this issue is at the one-yard line. The senate needs to reject it. Need to pull it out of the budget," said Mike Durant of the Small Business Association. "It's not a fiscal issue. It's not related to the fiscal health of the state. It's obviously a political issue."
All eyes are on the Republican-controlled state senate, which must sign off on any increase.
"We are getting a lot of input from outside folks. Their advocacy is a reflection of some of the discussions we are having internally," said state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.
Most of the rank-and-file members have gone back to their home districts for the holiday weekend. They are expected back on Monday, which could be a critical day because budget bills would need to be printed Monday night in order to have an on-time budget. The budget is due next Friday, April 1.