ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — As the cost of living goes up, so does the minimum wage; that’s what the Governor said in her budget presentation on Wednesday, but lawmakers and advocates of Raise The Wage Act say with record inflation, the Governor’s plan won’t cut it. Right now, the minimum wage in New York ranges from $14.20 to $15 an hour. Advocates are pushing for a minimum wage of $21.25 an hour by the year 2027 and then index to inflation.
“The state should not be in the business of codifying poverty wages, all we’re asking is that at a time when corporate profits are at an all time high and inflation is the highest it’s been, that we respond to this moment in the right way for once,” said sponsor of the bill, Senator Jessica Ramos. She said the minimum wage portion of the Governor’s budget presentation was mistakenly listed under the “For Youth” section. “There is this myth, that minimum wage earners, are somehow teenagers in New York State, and the truth couldn’t be further from that, only 5% of minimum wage earners in New York State are teenagers,” explained Ramos who also said the vast majority of people earning minimum wage are adults.
The Governor’s proposal reads: After reaching $15 per hour, each region’s minimum wage would increase consistent with the year-over-year Consumer Price Index… this bill caps annual increases at three percent. Paul Sonn, State Policy Program Director at the National Employment Law Project said the outcome of this proposal would hardly make a difference, “The Governor’s proposal would deliver very small raises of about $.40 an hour each year, which translates to about $670 a year or $13 a week.”
Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said he’s on board with indexing minimum wage to inflation, but thinks raising the wage could be too costly for businesses. ‘Maybe an employer could handle an increase, you know, a large increase in the minimum wage, but ultimately they can’t afford to up the wages throughout the whole employee scale, so we’ll see, I think it’s problematic. I do think we ought to have a conversation about it,” he said.