Should New York State Raise The Minimum Wage?

While the phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats” has often been used in defense of tax cuts for those with higher incomes, a newly released report concludes that a slight increase in income for New York’s lowest earners could add a significant boost to the state’s economy.

The report, which was unveiled Sunday by State Senator Jeff Klein (D- Bronx, Westchester) – along with a group which included State Senator Diane Savino (D- Staten Island, Brooklyn) – was prepared in part by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based non-partisan think tank, writes the Daily News.

Andres Kwon, the minimum wage campaign director for the Working Families Party was joined by the group of pols comprising of State Senators Savino, Klein, David Carlucci, (D-Rockland/ Orange) and Assemblyman Keith Wright, (D-Manhattan), at the press conference.

From the News:

“This report helps to silence the fearmongers by showing that money in the pockets of minimum wage earners ultimately means a greater demand for additional jobs,” Klein said. “It shows that raising the minimum wage is not only the right thing to do, which it is, but also is good for the state’s economy.”
Klein is sponsoring legislation with Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Manhattan) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan)to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and peg New York’s minimum wage to the rate of inflation in future years.
“New Yorkers who work full time shouldn’t be poor. It’s as simple as that,” said Wright, the Assembly Labor Committee chairman in February, when the bill was introduced.

The report highlighted recent increases in the prices of basic food items such as milk, bread, and cheese – which have had double digit price increases – as well as a 45% increase in home heating oil, a 43% increase in gasoline, and a 10% increase in New York City rents.

With minimum wages stagnant and prices for basic necessities on the rise, the study points out that minimum wage earners have been losing buying power.

The bill has the support of Mayor Bloomberg, as well as the Retail Council of New York State – a trade association representing retailers.

And while Governor Cuomo hasn’t publicly said what position he’ll take on the proposed wage increase, he is expected to sign the bill if it’s approved by the legislature.

“We are a state where we allow people to work, but not make enough to survive,” Senator Savino told the News. “As this report shows, by raising the floor of prosperity, we will also be raising the ceiling.”

What do you think? Is it time to raise the minimum wage?


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