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Assembly Speaker Silver introduces bill to raise minimum wage

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The leading Democrat in New York's Assembly is pushing to increase the state's minimum wage.

Speaker Sheldon Silver says it's "absurd" to think that anyone can make a living on the current amount, $7.25 an hour. He wants the minimum to go up to $8.50.

Silver had dozens of colleagues from his Democrat-controlled chamber behind him when he announced his bill yesterday.

The speaker says the minimum wage in New York has risen 10 cents in the last six years and increasing it is "a matter of human dignity".

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

He says  no one who works hard and plays by the rules should be “poor and bereft of hope.

Silver also says the recommended $8.50 an hour is low enough to prevent any potential job losses at businesses who say they can’t afford a sudden increase. “It is a balancing act”, said Silver. “And right now, New York State is out of balance.”

Under the bill’s provisions, the new minimum wage would increase by the rate of inflation each year. Silver says if the state’s minimum wage had been tied to the rate of inflation all along, it would now be $10.80 per hour. 

A spokesman says Gov. Andrew Cuomo has supported previous proposals to raise the minimum and will review this one.

The Senate Republican majority conference says senators will keep promoting policies that make New York a more business-friendly state.

The state farm Bureau and Business Council issued a joint press release yesterday expressing "dismay" at Silver’s proposal.

The two business groups say an increased minimum wage law that would put their members at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

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