Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, D-Yonkers, put the blame today on Senate Republicans, not the Independent Democratic Conference for a three-year phase of the minimum-wage increase.
Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are planning to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2016. Senate Democrats said they are prepared to vote to increase it to $9 an hour starting in January and tie future increases to the rate of inflation — a measure that Assembly Democrats passed earlier this month.
“As details emerge it is clear that the current minimum-wage proposal has some serious issues. While increasing the minimum wage to $9 is something that the Senate Democrats have long supported, we are disappointed that the current proposal doesn’t reach this level for three years, is not indexed to the rate of inflation and does not raise the wages of certain service workers,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
The budget is expected to include more than $700 million in tax breaks for businesses and the middle class, including a $350 rebate check for families with children. Senate Republicans first proposed the tax breaks.
On paper, Democrats have 33 Senate members, enough for a majority. But in reality, there’s 27 Democrats, five members of the Independent Democratic Conference and 31 members who sit with the Republicans — one of whom is a Democrat, Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn.
Stewart Cousins said Senate Democrats are prepared to pass a $9 an hour minimum wage.
“The governor and the Assembly all originally proposed acceptable proposals, unfortunately the Senate Republicans have blocked these efforts,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We propose removing this discussion from the budget and we stand ready to provide 27 votes for raising the minimum wage quicker, with indexing and for all low-wage workers.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the minimum-wage increase over three years is a positive one.