Mayor de Blasio Backs Proposal to Raise Local Minimum Wage

Mayor de Blasio Backs Proposal to Raise Local Minimum Wage

Mayor de Blasio Backs Proposal to Raise Local Minimum Wage
June 2, 2014

Gov. Andrew Cuomo played nice with New York City's political left over the weekend, resulting in a minimum wage proposal that is right up Mayor Bill de Blasio's alley.

After a joint press conference Monday, alongside U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan at the Jacob Riis Houses in Manhattan, de Blasio held court with reporters and praised the governor's proposal to raise the state minimum wage to the level floated by President Barack Obama, $10.10 per hour, with an option for localities to go even higher. Cuomo, who had previously been firmly against giving local governments the ability to set their own minimum wage, reportedly caved on that stance as part of the deal agreed to with the leftist Working Families Party in return for their endorsement.

De Blasio, who reportedly played an outsized role in brokering the agreement between Cuomo and the WFP, called Cuomo's minimum wage shift--you guessed it--"historic," and reiterated that the low hourly minimum is contributing to the widening income gap in New York City.   

"I've talked a lot about inequality, I've talked about a lot about how much people are suffering, and how much – how difficult it is to make ends meet in this city – how people cannot afford the cost of living, they can't afford housing," de Blasio said. "The minimum wage of $7.25 has been a huge part of that problem. Getting to $10.10 immediately, in the next session in 2015, next year, and then giving localities the ability to go farther, is a huge step forward. It's a historic step forward. It's going to make a huge difference for New Yorkers."

Under Cuomo's proposals, localities will have the ability to raise their minimum wage up to 30 percent higher than the state. Should the state pass a minimum wage increase to $10.10, New York City would potentially--provided that the wage increase passes through the City Council--be able to go as high as $13.10, significantly higher than the $11 per hour proposed by the City Comptroller Scott Stringer. 

Power brokers in the business community have indicated they will be monitoring the minimum wage conversation as it develops. Kathy Wylde, the president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, a business trade organization, told the Daily News' Ken Lovett that she has heard no concerns over Gov. Cuomo's minimum wage proposal.

"The business community will be watching to make sure the governor’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and growth remains paramount," Wylde said.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the minimum wage hike has any momentum within the state Legislature to gain traction before the session ends. Several insiders believe that the governor will have a difficult time getting any of his legislative priorities passed as part of the fallout from the WFP deal, where Cuomo committed to helping Senate Democrats take back leadership of the chamber from the Independent Democratic Conference coalition with Republican Leader Dean Skelos. 

Meanwhile, in Albany Senate Democrats seized on the renewed momentum for a local minimum wage increase, holding a press conference to announce a new report touting the benefits of allowing local governments to raise the minimum wage above the level set by the state.

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. is the sponsor of a bill that would raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, with cost of living adjustments built in as well. Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said that Sanders' legislation also includes the option for municipalities to raise the minimum wage locally.

Several other lawmakers, including state Sen. Daniel Squadron, have introduced similar bills to raise the minimum wage.

It is not immediately clear if Sanders' bill is the one that was mentioned by de Blasio.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Lentz 

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Nick Powell