Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was “disappointing” a minimum wage hike was dropped from the state budget–and promised State Senate Republicans would feel overwhelming public pressure to boost wages before the legislative session ends.
“It’s certainly disappointing because people are hurting right now,” Mr. de Blasio told the Observer at a City Hall press conference today. “This is something that should have been acted on already. We’ll keep working hard on getting it enacted in the remainder of the legislative session.”
Mr. de Blasio said a hike in the current minimum wage of $8.75 would happen, even if the Republican-controlled Senate opposes it, simply because it’s popular. The mayor, a Democrat, wants to see the city minimum wage at $13, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a more conservative Democrat, has called for a statewide minimum wage of $10.50 and an extra dollar for New York City.
“I don’t think this issue should ever be prejudged because the amount of public support is overwhelming. I always say, when you look at the national perspective, some of the reddest states in the country in 2014, a referendum was passed in favor of increases in minimum wage,” Mr. de Blasio continued. “So I think there’s tremendous public support and I think the Senate will obviously feel that pressure.”
But even if a minimum wage hike polls well, it’s disliked by Republicans senators, who view it as another anti-business tactic from the urban left. Many advocates were hoping for a wage increase to be tucked into the state budget so it wouldn’t face a vote on its own in the Senate.
Mr. de Blasio’s priorities are also facing opposition from Republicans because he worked so hard last year to put Democrats in control of the upper chamber. His efforts failed, but the mayor insisted he did nothing to undermine his own cause in Albany, where laws govern the city’s minimum wage, rent regulations, mayoral control of public schools and a host of other measures.
“I think the most natural thing in the world is for someone who believes in their own belief structure, their own party membership, to act accordingly. I’m doing that something people all over the country do every day,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I work with people I share values with to help them get elected.”
“I don’t think that changed the outcome [of the budget] in any meaningful way,” he added. “I believe in my heart, the merits are going to win the day.”