Cuomo Cool to de Blasio’s Minimum Wage Push

Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty)

Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty) Photo: Spencer Platt for Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t appear inclined to grant Mayor Bill de Blasio’s request to grant the city control of its own local minimum wage–setting the stage for another major policy disagreement between the state’s leading two Democrats.

Speaking on The Capitol Pressroom radio show this morning, Mr. Cuomo was directly asked whether he favored Mr. de Blasio’s plan, which would give the city the freedom to raise the minimum without Albany’s permission. Though he didn’t reject it outright, Mr. Cuomo suggested a potentially “chaotic” and “unproductive” situation would emerge if every city set its own wage laws.

“I’m in favor of something called the Constitution of the State of New York, which suggests that we have localities and what the localities deem important for the localities is taken seriously,” Mr. Cuomo told host Susan Arbetter. “But we are also one state. And we don’t want to cannibalize ourselves.”

“We don’t want to have different cities with different tax rates competing amongst themselves. Albany has one tax rate and then Schenectady has a different tax rate because Schenectady is trying to steal business from Albany–or they have different wage requirements, or different labor laws,” he continued. “This could get chaotic … So the balance is very important and that’s what the constitution tries to establish, the balance: a common set of primarily economic factors within the state and then let the states compete.”

Yesterday, during his first annual State of the City speech, Mr. de Blasio announced plans to press Albany on the wage issue, even though he is still fighting to get his universal pre-K plan approved by both Mr. Cuomo and the state legislature, which also control most city tax rates. For now, it seems Mr. de Blasio has an uphill battle with Mr. Cuomo, who approved a statewide minimum wage hike last year, and sounds unlikely to cede his authority to the city.

“Let the states compete. We compete with other states,” Mr. Cuomo reiterated today. “That competition within the state, however, Susan, I do not believe would be productive. And I don’t want to see Buffalo try to steal from Syracuse try to steal from Albany.”

State Senator Jeff Klein, a leader of the breakaway Democratic conference that governs the upper legislative chamber, was also cool today to Mr. de Blasio’s minimum wage push. 

“He just talked about it in his state of the city, but correct me if I’m wrong, we passed a minimum wage increase, a very robust one, to $9 in 2015,” Mr. Klein told reporters. “ Let’s move on.”

Updated (12: 58 p.m.): With Mr. Klein’s comments.