Senate Democrats are voicing their disapproval with the Governor for what they see as a failure to fight for an increase in the minimum wage. Our Nick Reisman has the story.
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NEW YORK STATE -- State lawmakers left Albany in June without raising the state's minimum wage. The measure faltered due to Senate Republican opposition, but also after Governor Andrew Cuomo claimed the measure was too harder to pass than the successful same-sex marriage vote. The governor's lukewarm stance has frustrated fellow Democrats.
“It is important for the governor to be more forceful, to use the bully pulpit to ensure that Republicans in the Senate understand that increasing the minimum wage is really good for the economy and is a job creator,” said State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in January called for an increase in the wage from $7.25 to $8.50. With lawmakers not expected back at least for now, the measure has become a campaign issue. Senate Democrats on Tuesday released a 19 page report pointing to statistics that the minimum wage wouldn't destroy jobs, but be an economic stimulus.
Espaillat said, “A lot of small businesses are not against the minimum wage. It's usually the big box stores that are against them. I think it would be a job creator and not a job killer.”
Business groups, like the Rochester-based Unshackle Upstate, disagree and point to the state's generally bad reputation for being business friendly.
“New York State has the 49th worst business tax climate in the country. Adding such an ordinate job in the amount of wages that we would pay is just going to make our companies less competitive,” said Brian Sampson, Unshackle Upstate Executive Director.
Sampson says burdensome regulations need to be pared back before an increase is made.
“You know now is just not the time. I think there are lots of things that we have to do in advance of considering a minimum wage. We have to fix our workers comp system, we have to fix our unemployment insurance. You know, the cost of doing business in New York state is so high then I think the conversation about minimum wage is very different,” Sampson said.
There is the chance the Legislature could return after the November elections in order to approve a pay increase that could be coupled with a minimum wage hike.