ALBANY – Progressive groups and Democratic lawmakers gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday morning to urge Gov. Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders to reject a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $17 an hour, arguing the increase does not go far enough.
Hochul, a Democrat, told reporters Tuesday she expects an agreement to be reached on the overdue state budget by the end of the week. The state budget was due April 1. Several news outlets have reported a tentative agreement will be included to raise the state’s minimum wage to $17 by 2028.
Raise Up New York, a coalition of progressive and labor groups, argues the increase does not keep up with inflation and the increased cost of living. They are pushing for at least a $20 minimum wage, arguing many essential workers already make at least $17 an hour and the raise will provide no real relief.
United Way of the Greater Capital Region President and CEO Peter Gannon said another important factor to consider is the expiration of pandemic assistance as families still struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m in the camp that the minimum wage is not the silver bullet to fix things, but any improvement on the minimum wage is a step in the right direction,” Gannon said. He argued tax incentives for things like child care are needed, as well.
“You can’t give away on the one hand and take it away with the other,” he added.
Republican lawmakers also have concerns about the minimum wage bump. Republican state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, said he supports a higher minimum wage for New Yorkers, however, it must be balanced with the needs of small businesses.
“Seventeen dollars an hour may sound nice, and I want workers to make as much money as they possibly can make — that would be great,” he said. “But, I don’t want workers to be laid off. I don’t want them to be made [to work] part time. So, we really have to evaluate the positives and the negatives and have a minimum wage that works for creating jobs, helping small business development and helping working individuals and families.”
Lawmakers last agreed to increase the state’s minimum wage during the 2016 budget negotiations from $9.70 to $14.20 in upstate New York. Westchester, Long Island and New York City raised the minimum wage to $15.