Gov. Andrew Cuomo today called for the state’s minimum wage to jump to $10.50 an hour and the city’s minimum wage to rise a dollar higher, thrilling progressives who long pushed the governor to hike wages in the city and state.
Mr. Cuomo announced he would include the plan in the state’s budget proposal, which he will unveil on Wednesday. The Democratic governor is likely to face opposition from Republicans who control the State Senate.
“We raised the minimum wage last year and we’re now in the midst of a minimum wage phase in schedule, and I’m proud that we raised the minimum wage,” Mr. Cuomo said. adding that the base wage should rise by the end of 2016. “But the wage gap is continuing to grow.”
New York State currently has one minimum wage for all municipalities. The wage increased to $8.75 at the end of 2014 and is scheduled to increase to $9 on December 31.
While labor unions and other progressive organizations cheered Mr. Cuomo this afternoon, the governor has long been averse to tinkering with the state’s minimum wage. Mr. Cuomo angered the left with his coziness to the state’s business communities and influential Republicans, all of whom deride minimum wage hikes as anti-business.
When Mayor Bill de Blasio, a fellow Democrat, called for an increase in the city’s minimum wage last year, Mr. Cuomo mocked the idea of municipalities setting different wages. It wasn’t until he sought the Working Families Party’s endorsement during his re-election campaign that he promised he would support a hike of the state minimum wage to $10.10 and city’s up to 30 percent higher–or $13.13 an hour.
Labor unions close to Mr. Cuomo like the Hotel Trades Council and 32BJ SEIU cheered Mr. Cuomo’s proposal, but the WFP, long at odds with the more centrist governor, expressed reservations.
“We applaud Governor Cuomo’s proposed increase in the state minimum wage as an important first step in the right direction,” said Bill Lipton, the party’s state director, “But $11.50 is almost $2 less than what he endorsed last spring. And the truth is it’s nearly impossible to raise a family in this state on even $12 or $13 an hour.”
Mr. Lipton added that he wanted to see a $15 minimum wage.
The $10.10 minimum wage Mr. Cuomo is asking for, however, is in line with the figure President Barack Obama hopes all 50 states will eventually reach.