Another budget, another year of low-wage workers waiting for justice.
It was reported Sunday that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders had agreed on a new deal concerning the upcoming budget that would not include an increase in the state’s minimum wage. Officials had until April 1 to agree on a new deal.
“I said I would not sign a budget without real ethics reform, and this budget does just that, putting in place the nation’s strongest and most comprehensive rules for disclosure of outside income by public officials, reforming the long-abused per diem system, revoking public pensions for those who abuse the public’s trust, defining and eliminating personal use of campaign funds and increasing transparency of independent expenditures,” said Cuomo in a statement. “This is a budget that all New Yorkers can be proud of.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, one of the elected officials who pushed for the state to increase the minimum wage, called the new budget “disappointing” at a news conference Monday.
De Blasio told the New York Observer, “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.”
Initially, the governor advocated raising the hourly wage in New York to $10.50 by 2017 and New York City’s hourly wage from $8.75 to $11.50. Last week, elected officials, low-wage workers and advocates had gathered on the steps of City Hall in lower Manhattan to call for an increase in the minimum wage.
“New Yorkers need a minimum wage that will let them support their families with dignity,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa in a statement last week. “Hardworking men and women need $15 an hour to pay the rent, to put food on the table, take care of their kids and survive in this city. We urge the Assembly and governor to stand strong in their support of workers.”
“It’s not a secret that workers cannot survive on the minimum wage,” said Miguel Cardona, member of New York Communities for Change and a carwash worker, last week. “Even when I work a full 40 hours a week or more, I struggle to pay rent, pay my bills and bring food to the table. Most paydays something will have to give. The state Legislature should do the right thing. My landlord can’t wait, my bills can’t wait and my family can’t wait for a fair wage.”
Republicans control the state Senate, and an increase in minimum wage might have had little chance of making its way through, but even so, its advocates were disappointed.
“I remain a strong supporter of the state Assembly majority’s well-reasoned minimum wage proposal, because it’s what hardworking New Yorkers deserve,” said New York City Council Member Margaret Chin in a statement last week. “This is the best path forward for our city, as well as our state, as it has been for others all across the country.”
Newly appointed Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie praised the new agreement for doing right by families.
“Throughout this budget process, the Assembly majority pledged to stand strong for New York’s families,” said Heastie in a statement. “This financial plan provides historic increases in education funding for our children, funds our Higher Education Road to Success initiative, provides safe and affordable housing for a growing number of New Yorkers who are on the brink of homelessness and grows our economy.”