With average New Yorkers feeling the economic crunch and dealing with fare hikes from the MTA, state officials are debating a minimum wage increase that could alleviate some of the pain. During a news conference in Albany last week, state Senate Democrats called for an increase in the minimum wage to $9.

“The time has come to raise the state’s minimum wage and help break the cycle of poverty faced by over 1.1 million hard-working New Yorkers that blocks them from achieving the American Dream,” said Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “Raising New York’s minimum wage and indexing it to the rate of inflation is supported by the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers across the political spectrum. I urge immediate action to ensure that all New Yorkers are provided fair wages for their hard work.”

State Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson stated that the harsh economic times call for them to take action in alleviating burdens of the poor and working class.

But state businesses are playing defense when it comes to any vote on a minimum wage increase. Unshackle Upstate, a business group based in Rochester, wrote a letter to elected officials asking them to oppose a minimum-wage increase. The group pointed to a recent Cornell study saying that minimum-wage increases would hurt businesses and lead to job losses.

“Contrary to the recent report published by the Assembly majority, there is in fact clear evidence that increasing the minimum wage will lead to a loss of jobs, especially among low-wage workers,” the group wrote. However, state Sen. Eric Adams cited another study that stated what the minimum wage should be right now if adjusted for inflation.

“The Employment Law Project study tells us that were we to adjust the minimum wage to the cost of living increase, on a federal level, it would be $10.58,” said Adams. “Another study by the Fiscal Policy Institute has declared that for New York, the enactment of this legislation will benefit 1 million workers and result in the creation 25,000 jobs-25,000 jobs that will add to a greater consumer base, greater profit and an increase in the tax base. Clearly, this is a win for New York’s residents and its businesses.”

The opposition isn’t stopping state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who is current pushing forward with the legislation. Espaillat said that low-income families need immediate relief, and part of that relief can come in the form of a minimum wage increase.

“It’s getting harder and harder for low-income families to pay their rent and provide for their children, and raising the minimum wage will help people across the state keep their heads above water,” said Espaillat. “By not just raising the minimum wage, but also indexing it to inflation, we can assist struggling New Yorkers and keep the minimum wage’s purchasing power from eroding over time. This increase won’t just help minimum wage earners–it will serve as [a] powerful economic stimulus and boost local businesses in our communities.”