Step aside Governor Andrew Cuomo, President Barack Obama has one-upped your minimum wage proposal.
In his State of the Union speech tonight, Mr. Obama unveiled a number of initiatives, including a new national minimum wage rate of $9.00 an hour, raised from the previous minimum of $7.25.
“We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages,” Mr. Obama says in his prepared remarks.
Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich, currently a candidate for the State Senate against Joe Addabbo, announced he supports legislation to increase New York State’s minimum wage to $8.50 this evening. The move places him on the opposite side of the issue than Majority Leader Dean Skelos and the Republican conference, who steadfastly oppose the legislation.
“People are hurting in Queens and the current minimum wage simply isn’t enough to make ends meet for families here,” Mr. Ulrich said in a statement. “Single parent households are especially hit hard by the rising cost of living in New York. The bottom line is that there simply aren’t enough hours in the week at $7.25 per hour to pay the rent or mortgage and to buy the basic household items they need. I have listened to both sides of this argument, but one truth resonates more than any other: If we don’t take this action, too many families are going to go under.”
Democrats the State Legislature are pushing hard for an increase in the minimum wage this year, but Governor Andrew Cuomo remains solidly skeptical of the ability of the legislation to get anywhere in the Republican-controlled State Senate.
“The Assembly has put forth a bill. I support the concept of a minimum wage increase as you know,” Mr. Cuomo methodically explained in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom earlier this morning. “I think it would be appropriate. The Senate does not agree and the Senate feels quite strongly about their position.”
Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver might be aggressively pushing for an increase to New York State’s minimum wage, but Majority Leader Dean Skelos threw a big bucket of cold water on the idea after a press conference on college affordability earlier today.
“Every single small businessperson, that I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and talk to, say they would have to lay off people because of these additional costs,” he said. “To me, the moral imperative is to have as many people working as possible.”
On “The Capitol Pressroom,” Andrew Cuomo said that a minimum wage hike this year “would be in order.”
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State of the City
In his State of the City address today, Mayor Bloomberg will propose something akin to splitting the baby on the living wage fight when he comes down in favor of a boost in the minimum wage.
“The genius of the free market is not always perfect,” Bloomberg said, according to the prepared text of his speech. “Two of our neighbors – Connecticut and Massachusetts – have raised their minimum wage above the Federal standard to address higher costs of living. And so while we would prefer the Federal government to act to keep us competitive, this year, we will join Speaker Shelly Silver in pushing for a responsible raise in the minimum wage.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg explained his opposition to the “Fair Wages For New Yorkers Act,” also known as the “Living Wage Bill,” at a press conference celebrating the new taxi bill in Inwood today. In response to a question from The Politicker, Mayor Bloomberg said he’d be willing to “take a look at” at a hypothetical, modified version of the bill, but he thinks New York needs to stay consistent with the federal minimum wage and the rate in neighboring states. He also believes working long hours for low pay is a key part of the “American dream.”
“Fundamentally, I believe that the marketplace has got to set these things, we’re in competition with other cities,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “I would love to have everybody who has a job in this city get well paid and have all sorts of benefits.I think it is also practical to say that there are jobs that just would never support those kinds of benefits and the economics just dont work in those industries.”