Silver: Minimum wage hike spurs economy; Libous: No it doesn’t

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Though Senate Republicans haven’t completely ruled out a hike in the state’s minimum wage, it’s clear they aren’t seeing eye-to-eye with the measure’s biggest supporter.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, has championed a proposed raise in the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, first during his pre-State of the State speech and later in a variety of media availabilities and appearances over the past several weeks.

His latest comments on his proposal came in an interview with The Buffalo News’ Tom Precious:

“I think overall it’s been proven by a number of studies that raising the minimum wage doesn’t lose jobs,” Silver said. “It’s been proven that raising the minimum wage adds to economic activity, because people who earn minimum wage are people who don’t have tremendous savings and they go out and spend any additional money they have thus generating more economic activity and generating more jobs as a result. So I think it’s a win-win.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said on Tuesday that he’s concerned that a minimum wage hike could be a “job killer rather than a job promoter.” Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, repeated that concern today.

Libous pointed to the last minimum wage hike on the state level as proof. The state phased in an increase from $5.15 an hour to $7.15 over the course of three years beginning in 2005, and the economy didn’t improve, Libous said.

“The proponents have said that if you increase the minimum wage, the economy will improve,” Libous said. “If it is indeed an issue that gets the economy moving, it didn’t work the last time we did it because we are now in the worst economy since the Great Depression for the last several years.”

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