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Cuomo signs state's new minimum wage bill into law


The long fight for a higher minimum wage in New York is over. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state's new minimum wage bill, approved in the recently-passed state budget, this morning. Cuomo, speaking in Manhattan, said the current economy hasn’t been a fair economy for working families.

“It is the labor movement, that built this nation’s middle class in the first place, and we’re rebuilding the middle class for a new economy today,” said Cuomo. “The thanks goes to the New Yorkers who got involved who put aside their institutional differences and their political differences to make this law a reality.”

Workers in upstate New York will see the minimum wage increase to $9.70 by the end of 2016, increasing by 70 cents until it reaches $12.50 in 2020. New York City will see the wage rise to $15 an hour by 2018. Cuomo said New York is showing the way forward on economic justice.

“Mario Cuomo said, ‘The economy doesn’t work for any of us until it works for all of us. The greatest feast is the feast where the most people share in that feast,’” said Cuomo. “That was his vision for New York and that’s our vision for New York.”

Businesses with up to ten employees will have four years to adjust to the higher wage. The law contains a “safety valve” which allows state officials to continue or suspend wage increases starting in 2019. Cuomo said you can’t raise a family on $9 an hour.

“Productivity has gone up 70%. Workers' wages have only gone up 9%,” said Cuomo. “The top 1% has gone up 138% at the same time. That’s not right, it’s not fair, and we won’t let it stand in the state of New York.”

President Obama commended Cuomo’s effort, saying Congress now needs to raise the federal minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009.

Cuomo also signed a bill allowing 12-week paid family leave that would take full effect by 2021. California’s governor also signed a $15 an hour minimum wage bill into law today that will take full effect by 2022.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.