ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Some lawmakers have been pushing for a minimum wage increase to be included in the budget. One measure would raise it to $21.25 an hour by 2026. The Governor’s budget proposal did include indexing the minimum wage with inflation, but on Tuesday, she gestured support for a minimum wage increase to $17 an hour. Our Capitol Correspondent, Amal Tlaige spoke with lawmakers and has reaction from them.
“I think that it’s outrageous, that she would think that we would be okay with a minimum wage that would essentially not cover the basic necessities for New Yorkers over the next few years,” said Senator Jessica Ramos who is sponsoring the wage increase bill. She said $17 an hour still won’t cut it – some of her own constituents making $19 an hour are struggling to support their family. “It should well cover housing, groceries, and other basic necessities that every single New York State family has,” she said.
Ramos has spoken to over 300 businesses who have joined her coalition, and are on board with paying higher wages, but not all New York businesses agree. “Were asking lawmakers to push pause on minimum wage hike all together,” said Steve Ammerman, Director of communications for New York Farm Bureau. He added, farms have been dealing with high inflationary pressures just like every New Yorker, “And one thing that’s important to understand is that our farms just can’t pass along those higher cost to customers that are trying to recoup their expenses.”
Ammerman explained that farms are in a competitive market, where the lowest price wins, and milk prices are controlled by a federal milk pricing formula, not farms. “So anytime labor becomes more expensive it just drives up costs for farms, it makes it more difficult for them to compete and it makes it more difficult for them to stay in business and produce food that we need,” said Ammerman.
Advocates of the bill say this would prevent more people from leaving the state, but Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said, it would be too costly for New York businesses who are already paying higher costs compared to other states. “I think by increasing the minimum wage it’s going to add to that cost and ultimately that hurts workers because people are going to use automation or they’re going to layoff workers it’s not going to increase employment.. It’s hard to live in New York. This is just gonna exacerbate the problem,” said Barclay. Currently, there’s no finalized plan on minimum wage in the budget but NEWS10 will keep you updated when a budget deal is made.