By playing smart, hardball politics, Gov. Cuomo is muscling GOP state Senate leader Dean Skelos and his Republican colleagues into accepting adoption of a $1.50-an-hour increase in New York’s minimum wage [with the support of Make the Road New York].
The low-income working people of this state, now far more likely to start earning $8.75 an hour — and soon — should join us in saying: Good going, gov.
New York last increased its wage floor six years ago, and the ticking of the clock for those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder has been achingly slow since then.
Especially in the five boroughs, where costs of living are way higher than elsewhere in the state.
Working a 40-hour week for 52 weeks at the current minimum brings in a paltry $15,080. Before taxes (and yes, despite income tax breaks in that bracket, everyone has to fork over payroll taxes, sales taxes and more).
How can anyone afford housing, food and the other necessities of life with what’s left?
As Cuomo said in his State of the State address, it’s “unlivable.”
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have minimums higher than the $7.25 federal level. Not New York; we’re laggards, not leaders.
A minimum of $8.75 an hour would put our state third behind only Washington State ($9.19) and Oregon ($8.95).
Toward the front, honoring hard work, where it should be.
Yet Republicans, still parroting the tired dogma that paying struggling workers a little more hurts businesses and kills jobs, resist the increase.
Cuomo finally found a way to push through their obstinacy: He’s put the increase in his budget. Unlike a stand-alone bill, the budget must come to the floor. No way around it.
Speaker Sheldon Silver and his Assembly Democrats passed a wage hike last year, only to see the Senate kill it.
That’s less likely now, as Skelos is sharing power with a group of breakaway Democrats who want an increase.
Among these are state Sen. Diane Savino, just tapped to chair the Labor Committee.
And so, if everything goes right, $8.75 will kick in on July 1 for more than 700,000 workers.
That will net them up to $3,000 a year extra. That’s real money.
And real progress.