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Minimum wage efforts continue in Albany

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Supporters of raising New York’s minimum wage have not given up hope of getting a bill passed this session.

The bill to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25  an hour to $8.50  has been approved in the Democratic led State Assembly, but faces opposition form Republicans who control the Senate.

GOP Senate leaders say it would be a “job killer”, because small businesses would  have to limit hiring new workers.

That reasoning did not stop Senate Democrats, who are in the minority in that house, from attempting to place the bill on the Senate floor for a vote, in what’s known as a hostile amendment.

Senator Adriano Espaillat, introduced the measure in the Senate, saying it’s a “moral” issue, and would also help the economy, because lower wage workers spend the extra money on basic necessities.     

“It is a direct benefit for the state’s overall economic development,” Espaillat said.

Senate Republicans were voting on a business tax cut package that they believe will do more to create better paying jobs. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos spoke in favor of the bill.

“It would send an unmistakable message that New York is serious about creating jobs,” said Skelos.  

Many of the proposals would not take effect until next year. They would not have an impact on the tightly balanced state budget.

They include eliminating all taxes on manufacturing businesses in New York for a three year period.

Senate Finance Committee Chair John DeFrancisco says the tax cut will generate more money in new jobs and economic activity, and will generate “multiple  benefits and multiple job growth”  from spin off businesses.  

The Senate Republican’s package also includes  a 20% cut in the corporate tax rate for small businesses, and a $5000 tax credit for each new job created, $8000 if the new employee was unemployed, and $10,000 if they are a returning war veteran.

The business tax cut plan is not currently supported in the Assembly. 

Occupy protesters, who have made raising the minimum age a focus of recent demonstrations, occupied Senator Skelo’s Capitol offices for a brief time.

“This movement is unstoppable, a living wage is possible,” they chanted.

The small band of protesters was arrested by Troopers and led away in handcuffs.

Despite the efforts of supporters, Governor Cuomo continues to throw cold water on the minimum wage increase, saying while he personally supports an increase, he doesn’t think it’s likely to happen.






Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.