Cuomo moving to raise minimum wage for state employees to $15 per hour

andrew cuomo state employee 15 per hour screengrab

The Cuomo admin announced Tuesday that Andrew Cuomo is moving to unilaterally set a $15 minimum wage for state employees.

The increase would be phased in over the next few years, rising to $15 in New York City by the end of 2018, and by 2021 in the rest of the state. It's projected the increase would affect approximately 10,000 state employees -- 9,000 of them outside New York City.

The governor publicly announced the plan at a Fight for 15 rally in New York City. "This is about basic fairness and basic justice," he said of the push to raise the minimum wage both in New York State and across the country. "We're going to lead the way. The nation's going to watch us."

The Cuomo admin projects that the wage increase will cost $20.6 million annually after it's fully implemented in 2021. (For some frame of reference, the state's fiscal year 2016 budget is almost $143 billion.)

Back in September Cuomo announced he would be pushing to increase the state's minimum wage for all workers to $15 an hour. That followed a maneuver his administration pulled off this summer in which it used a wage board to set a raise to the $15-per-hour level for fast food employees -- bypassing the state legislature.

It's possible that Cuomo is moving to raise to the wage of state employees now simply because he thinks it's the right thing to do. But it's also probably true that he sees this as another way to exert force on the legislature -- specifically Republicans in the state Senate -- to act on a minimum wage increase when the new session starts.

It'll be interesting to see how the debate plays out. Conservative orgs like the Empire Center are already pushing against an increase to $15 per hour, arguing it will stunt job growth. You'd expect that sort of push back. But it will also be worth watching if there's geographic element to support and/or opposition, because a $15 per hour wage in Manhattan isn't the same thing as it is in Utica.

More coverage:
+ NYT: Cuomo to Create $15 Minimum Wage for New York State Workers
+ TU CapCon: Minimum wage React-O-Matâ„¢

Earlier:
+ Getting some sense of a $15-per-hour minimum wage
+ Cuomo: Raise New York State's minimum wage to $15 an hour for all industries
+ New York State set to raise fast food minimum wage to $15 per hour

screengrab from Cuomo admin livestream

Comments

Good. I was just thinking about how I don't pay enough state taxes in this, the most heavily taxed state in the country. I was considering a move to Venezuela, but luckily now I won't have to.

http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/morning_call/2015/03/new-yorkers-face-highest-tax-burden-in-the-country.html

Great so now they can suck up more taxpayer dollars while they nap and watch movies all shift. Talk about workers who deserve it the least.

I spent twelve years working a minimum wage job. I worked very hard, and I loved doing it, and I was really good at it. But I had to quit because I couldn't afford to keep the job. I typically worked more than 60 hours per week.

My mother worked the same job, for the same amount of time and put herself through college and became a doctor. It was possible for her because minimum wage back then was more in proportion to standard of living.

Not sure how much I "deserved" to get, that's a complex question. But I sure don't think better pay is something I "deserved the least."

The other thing to consider is the larger economic picture. Lower wage workers tend to SPEND their money rather than save it. So we are talking about an annual infusion of $20M into the economy. Yea, we are over-taxed, I agree, but when the lowest among us are lifted up, we all benefit.

From 1968 to 1979 adjusted minimum wage went from $10.86 to $9.44. It's dropped ever since and hasn't been over $8 since 1982.

Make of that what you will.

If you work under Cuomo you deserve the increase.

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