A combination of Republican intransigence and an aversion by progressive groups to several last-minute compromise proposals has fueled broad pessimism that minimum wage increase will make it into the state budget.
“As more and more items are being removed from this year’s State Budget, I am especially concerned that efforts to increase the minimum wage seemed to have stalled,” said Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Now is the time to help the hard working men and women who are struggling because of our already inadequately low minimum wage.”
Three people familiar with the talks said one plan would have increased the minimum rate to $9.50 an hour, a dollar less than Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed in his spending plan and 50 cents above the rate set to take effect with the new year. Another proposal that was considered but seemingly discarded would have only increased the minimum wage in New York City; Cuomo’s proposal would have enacted an $11.50 rate within the five boroughs.
While Republican lawmakers acknowledged there had been discussions earlier this week, State Sen. George Amedore said the minimum wage increase did not come up during a Friday morning session.
State Senator Cathy Young, a Republican from Olean, said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos’ earlier statements that a hike was not in the spending plan still stood.
Democrats said they were holding out for a higher number. The Assembly proposed a $13 minimum wage, and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio asked for a $15 hourly rate by 2019. A de Blasio spokeswoman said his aides were “still advocating.”
Deborah Axt, of the progressive group Make the Road, called $9.50 “laughable” and said a New York City-only proposal would be “extremely dismaying given the cost of living on Long Island and Westchester.”
Asked Friday morning about where things stood, Assembly majority leader Joe Morelle said, “It’s hard to answer.”
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