Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's fight to raise the state's minimum wage is a tough one. He has not managed to get Senate Republicans to support the measure and Governor Cuomo has avoided taking a position on the bill. Our Nick Reisman explains.
NEW YORK STATE -- More pressure is being applied to state officials to raise the minimum wage after The New York Catholic Conference called for a modest increase. But Governor Andrew Cuomo, at a news conference Thursday, lower expectations mean the measure might pass.
“At this point, there's a philosophical difference within the Legislature on the minimum wage. We're still talking about it. I wouldn't handicap it at this point. But I wouldn't be exceptionally optimistic,” Cuomo said.
The governor's comments came as the New York Catholic Conference led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan called on Albany to address the issue.
In a statement, the conference said “It is becoming increasingly difficult for the working poor of our state to make ends meet.”
Speaking to reporters, Cuomo didn't address the statement directly.
Cuomo said, “I've always, I've usually supported the concept of raising the minimum wage.”
Majority Republicans in the Senate are opposed to the bill first introduced by Speaker Sheldon Silver, which would bump the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and then tie future wage increases to inflation. As an alternative, Majority Leader Dean Skelos plans to introduce a package of tax cuts for businesses in the next two weeks.
“If he wants to create jobs, he'll pass our tax credit bills and certainly I don't not want to hurt jobs, so we will not be passing his minimum wage bill,” Skelos said.
But Silver says a pay raise for the state's poorest workers can help stimulate job growth. Just this week, Silver said the hike can help relieve the strain n government to provide social service programs.
Silver said, “This is something that not only stimulates the economy, it may relieve some of the burden that government now faces.”
Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 would give New York one of the highest in the country. Polls show broad support for a minimum wage increase, even among Republican voters.