Over a year ago, the Assembly Majority introduced legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour and index it to the rate of inflation in order to help hardworking East End families get ahead. In his State of the Union address on February 12, President Obama announced a proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour and, like the Assembly Majority’s plan, index it to inflation. In light of this development, the Assembly amended its legislation (A.38-A) to match the president’s proposal.
The amended bill calls for the minimum wage to increase to $9.00 per hour in January 2014. Beginning in 2015, the minimum wage will be indexed, requiring an increase each year to adjust for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The measure also sets wages for food service workers who receive tips at $6.21 per hour.
While the national attention to this vitally important issue is encouraging, it’s essential that we don’t wait for Washington to take action. With overwhelming public support to increase the minimum wage here in New York State, we have to act now.
For too long, families living on minimum wage salaries have been forced to make do with inadequate wages. New Yorkers are working harder than ever for pay that makes it difficult to put food on the table or keep a roof over their families’ heads. By increasing the minimum wage, working families will see a rise in their purchasing power and are likely to spend the money from their hard-earned paychecks at local businesses, helping strengthen our economy.
Currently, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and 16 other states have higher minimum wages than New York State. And 10 other states have already passed legislation indexing the minimum wage to inflation. The minimum wage in New York has increased just 10 cents per hour in the last six years and was raised with the most recent federal minimum wage increase from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour in 2009. That is simply not good enough.
It’s time to get this done for hardworking East End families and help provide them with a better quality of life.