Klein to carry minimum wage bill in Senate (UPDATE)

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Sen. Jeff Klein, the de facto head of the Independent Democratic Conference, will carry a bill in the Senate to increase the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 and tie it to the rate of inflation.

Klein, a Democrat whose district includes parts of the Bronx and southern Westchester County, introduced the bill in the Legislature’s upper chamber today, after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced it in his house last week.

Silver has vowed to make a minimum wage hike a major platform of the Assembly’s 2012 legislative session, but has faced some push back from Senate Republicans and business groups.

Here’s Klein’s statement:

“New York is failing to live up to its tradition as a progressive leader as long as this state’s minimum wage remains stagnant. Living on $290 a-week is virtually impossible in this state, yet that’s what thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers are struggling to do each day.

I believe we can do better as a state and as a society. That is why I, in the State Senate, have introduced legislation by Assemblyman Wright and Speaker Silver to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, and to peg the minimum wage to the rate of inflation.

I’m hopeful that my colleagues in the Legislature will join us in this fight for a fair and equitable New York that lives up to the ideals of this great state.”

Update: Senate Democrats are quick to point out that Sen. Adriano Espaillat, D-Manhattan, introduced a bill in late January that would increase the minimum wage to $8.50, but would not index the rate to inflation. Klein and three other Democrats broke from their fellow Senate Democrats to form the IDC last year.

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