Senior Senator Charles Schumer has been one of several senators who are pushing federal legislation to up the minimum wage to nearly $10. Schumer made a stop in Albany Monday, weighing in on the state's struggle to increase the minimum wage, placing blame on the Senate Republicans. Our Nick Reisman has more.
NEW YORK STATE -- After an effort to raise the minimum wage on the state level failed this year, federal lawmakers are now turning their attention to the issue. A Democratic-backed proposal that's supported both Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand would increase the federal minimum wage to $9.80, a more ambitious plan than what Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wanted.
Schumer said, “You know, I think we should get this done at the federal level and at the state level. If you work hard, 40 hours a week, you should be able to support your family in a decent way. “
Silver in January proposed raising New York's minimum wage from the current federal minimum of $7.25 to $8.50 and then tie future increases to inflation. But the bill failed to gain traction in the Senate and any intense on Governor Andrew Cuomo's part to see the bill pass. Schumer says Cuomo isn't to blame.
“From what I understand, it's the State Senate that's blocking it. So I think Governor Cuomo is for it and I think the Assembly has passed it,” Schumer said.
State Senate Republicans were quick to respond to that, releasing a lengthy statement that said in part, “While we're reducing the taxes middle class families pay to their lowest levels in more than 50 years, Senator Schumer is refusing to support middle class tax cuts and approving Obamacare, which combined will cost New Yorkers $14 billion in new taxes -- which is proof that he doesn't understand the needs of suburban New Yorkers.”
But it's pressure being exerted on Cuomo from the traditional Democratic based that might count the most.
“I think Governor Cuomo understands it. A lot of folks are pressing him to get into the mix and try to raise the wage at the state level, but I think this combination of action in Washington and action in Albany is the best possible thing that could be happening,” said Michael King, Strong Economy For All Coalition Executive Director.
Despite Republicans not backing the measure here in New York, at least two GOP candidates running for the state Senate, Bob Cohen of Westcher and Eric Ulrich of Queens, have given conditional support for a minimum wage increase.