Cuomo: Obama Minimum Wage Proposal ‘A Complication’ In NY
Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a full-throated cry during his brief public appearance at the tail end of caucus weekend to restore New York to its rightful place as the “progressive capital of the nation,” which – in his eyes – requires action this year on raising the hourly minimum wage.
“Minimum wage because if you work full-time you shouldn’t be below the poverty rate,” Cuomo said to cheers from a small crowd of caucus-goers. “If you work full-time you shouldn’t be poor, and if you work full-time you shouldn’t have to choose between eating and paying your rent. That’s why we have to raise the minimum wage.”
But speaking to reporters before he took the stage, Cuomo was more circumspect, admitting President Obama’s call during last week’s State of the Union address to bump the national minimum wage to $9 an hour – 25 cents more than the governor himself has proposed here in New York – had complicated the debate here.
Obama also called for indexing future minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation – something liberal advocates, as well as Democrats in the Senate and Assembly, have called on Cuomo to do, too. But his plan does not call for that.
“That’s one of the complications that happened now,” Cuomo said. “We proposed increasing the minimum wage to 8.75 an hour.”
“The president came out and said that he is proposing a minimum wage at nine dollars. We now have to justify the federal law and the possibility and probably that it passes as a state law. So that’s a little more complex, and we’re in the process of working through now.”
“…The Republicans say: As long as this is going to be done federally, why do we need to do it in the state of New York? I understand that. That assumes it happens federally, and if it actually passed federally at nine dollars, they would have a point.”
“But there’s a long way between here and there.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver quickly amended the minimum wage bill in his house (which already included indexing) to match Obama’s. But Cuomo said tonight he doesn’t see the need to re-propose his plan, noting there are many proposals on the table now, and everyone is fairly clear on where everyone else stands.
“The conversations are ongoing,” the governor explained. “We’re at the table we understand what everyone’s position is. We understand what the federal law is. What we have to figure out is what is the likelihood that the federal law will actually pass, or not, and if it’s going to pass, when, I don’t know. Depending on who you talk to.”
Cuomo did open the door to the possibility of taking his minimum wage proposal out of the executive budget, which he has argued he included there because increasing how much low-income New Yorkers earn has the potential to help boost the economy. (Businesses that oppose the move disagree heartily).
If minimum wage stays in the budget, Cuomo has the option of forcing it down the throats of the reluctant Republicans by forcing them to choose between a standing firm in their opposition to raising the hourly wage and shutting down the government.
Most observers don’t think things will come to that. In fact, due to the timing of the Easter and Passover holidays this year, the budget is expected to be early – perhaps completed within the next two weeks.
“We’ll see we’ll see where we are at the end of two weeks,” Cuomo said of the minimum wage debate. “Either it will be done in the budget or at the end of session.”
Cuomo received some support from Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was also on hand for caucus weekend. (I can’t recall when he has ever missed one). The state’s senior senator insisted the outlook for Obama’s $9-an-hour plan is “promising” – at least in the Democrat-controlled US Senate, which is expected to have the proposal on the floor by spring.
Schumer rather pragmatically said he doesn’t see why New York shouldn’t move forward with its own minimum wage increase plan, insisting that to wait for Congress to act isn’t necessary.
“I think each should go on their own and do the best they can,” Schumer said. “I don’t think one complicates the other in any way at all. I think the president was right to call for it nationally, and I think the New York Strate is right to go forward on its side.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on February 17, 2013 at 8:32 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, Barack Obama, Chuck Schumer, Minimum Wage, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|