Wednesday, March 6, 2013

NYS Assembly passes $9 minimum wage; Bill goes to Senate

The state Assembly voted tonight to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour with automatic increases tied to inflation, putting pressure on Senate's Republicans who are seeking business tax cuts in a potential legislative deal.

The Assembly passed its version of the measure 101-44, led by the Democratic majority. But closed-door negotiations are under way involving Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate majority leaders.

Senate Republicans this week proposed a series of tax breaks for employers that would total $2 billion in cuts in the state budget now being negotiated. In Albany, such related proposals are often the basis of a compromise deal.

The minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour, which is the federal minimum shared by 20 states, including neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Twelve states have a higher minimum wage than New York.

Among the proposals being floated by legislative leaders is raising the wage to $8.50, then $8.75, then $9 over two or three years, legislative officials said.

Cuomo had proposed an $8.75 wage but said he's open to negotiation. The Senate's Independent Democratic Conference, which shares control of the chamber with Republicans, has proposed an $8.50 wage with automatic inflation increases. Senate Republicans aren't supporting any increase so far.

"The Senate has to get off the dime — 17 dimes and one nickel to be exact," said the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Keith Wright, a Manhattan Democrat. "This is a matter of fairness, a matter of equity."

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