Republican Legislators in Albany Question Math Behind 'Fight For 15'
ALBANY, N.Y. -- As Gov. Andrew Cuomo rallies for increasing the state's minimum wage to $15, Senate Republicans on Thursday held up a stop sign, with Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco there saying it's unlikely to happen.
"There's no support in the conference for a $15 minimum wage," said DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, who went further, saying the targeted minimum wage of $15, phased in from the current $9, is a political number that is being pushed by labor groups around the country.
"The way we've doing it since I've been here for the last 20 years is taking a looking at the cost of living, taking a look at inflation and coming up with a number, a not a political number, that is being bantered about by various organizations throughout the United States that $15 is the number."
Hours later, Cuomo responded to DeFrancisco's criticism after rally with labor leaders in Albany.
"So what is his number? Zero? And isn't that a political number? The most political number is zero," said Cuomo, D-New York.
Cuomo has railed against fast-food companies that have paid their workers the minimum wage, while those workers turn around to receive public benefits paid for by the taxpayers.
"If he thinks that's what the people of this state support, he is as wrong as can be, and let him run for re-election on that part," Cuomo said.
Even as he pushes for the key economic issues, Cuomo says he won't hold up the state budget in order to achieve the minimum wage increase. The budget season is when Cuomo typically has the most leverage over lawmakers.
"I don't like to threaten holding up the budget and you could argue that it's not an essential budget item and it's a matter of policy that could be done after the budget," said Cuomo.
The formal leaders meetings between the governor and Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker are yet to begin; however, they are due to start soon ahead of the March 31 deadline.