Governor Andrew Cuomo’s comments about the non-urgency of increasing the state’s minimum wage drew a mixed response from advocates and opponents of the issue.
Speaking to the editorial board of the New York Post, Cuomo said raising the $8.75 minimum hourly wage—which will increase to $9 at year’s end—remains a “top priority,” but was “not urgent in terms of timeliness.” The governor, a Democrat, said legislators often only act at the last minute and noted that even the proposals on the table, which would variously set the wage at between $10.50 and $15, do not take effect immediately.
Mike Durant, executive director of the New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said he did not see Cuomo’s remarks as cause for a victory celebration.
“Rule one in Albany is, the death of any public policy idea is short-lived,” Durant said. “It’s interesting that the governor down-played the possibility of a minimum wage increase, but we’re a long way from the final adjournment in June.”
Cuomo dropped the minimum wage from his budget proposal in the face of resistance from Republicans who control the State Senate. He suggested the issue could be taken up when lawmakers return from their spring break, and possibly linked to a system of property tax rebates.
Deborah Axt, executive director of the progressive group Make the Road, took heart in Cuomo’s comments and noted nationwide protests on Wednesday pushing for a higher wage for fast food workers.
“We’re happy to hear it’s a top priority,” she said. “We think it is critically urgent, because the last minimum wage increase was paltry and what the governor put on the table in earlier conversations was really insufficient. We were in the streets yesterday all over the state with thousands of people calling for a $15 minimum wage, which is what we really need.”
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