Compromise on Minimum Wage Hike takes Shape Ahead of Budget Deadline in Albany
With the state budget due next week, the last remaining sticking point in negotiations is an increase in the state's minimum wage. While Governor Cuomo has been pushing for $15 an hour, a compromise is taking shape. State House Reporter Zack Fink has more.
State leaders say they are close to a budget deal but one issue remains elusive — raising the state's minimum wage.
Governor Cuomo has been cross-crossing the state campaigning for a $15 an hour minimum wage to be implemented over separate timetables for New York City and the rest of the state.
State Senate Republicans, some of whom resisted such a large increase, now seemed resigned to accept a some kind of minimum wage compromise as part of the budget.
"I believe there is nobody who doesn't believe that some type of minimum wage is something that we want to do and accomplish," said Republican Senator Martin Golden, who represents Brooklyn.
Under the latest proposal, sources say New York City would see a $15 wage after three years, the neighboring suburban counties, including those on Long Island and Westchester, would see $15 after four years and upstate New York would get an increase to $13 or another number less than 15.
"There are different situations," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "We all know that the city of New York and downstate is different economic situation than upstate New York."
Even Governor Andrew Cuomo raised the prospect of compromising this week.
"Well first, I think you have to make a special modification for the agricultural industry," Cuomo said. "Because the rules are different there, and employees work on a different basis."
Cuomo could actually do an end-run around lawmakers as he did for fast food workers earlier this year when they received an increase. The Governor has the power to convene a wage board to set the rate.
But sources say Senate Republicans are negotiating to see the wage boards eliminated as part of a deal.
"The senate has been unabashed in advocating for that," said Senator John Flanagan. "I've expressed this and I don't want to pretend for one second to speak for the speaker at all. We have senator DeFrancisco, who has legislation to repeal the wage board."
Insiders say once a deal can be reached on the minimum wage, the rest of the budget should fall into place. The budget is due next Thursday, April 1.