In February, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said it would be a chaotic situation to let local governments set their own minimum wage.
But Cuomo said today that a plan he supports as part of Saturday’s deal with the Working Families Party is different.
The proposal, which Cuomo vowed to seek approval for next year, would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour while indexing it to inflation and allowing localities to raise it up to 30 percent higher than the statewide wage.
“In the video last night, I said, we have to recognize the difference in the cost of living in different markets,” Cuomo told reporters in Manhattan. “and I would allow localities within a state-prescribed formula to adjust a local wage – but not that the locality gets to set the rate wherever they want. I’m against that.”
It’s unclear what the specifics details would be, but it sounds like Cuomo would let downstate areas, particularly New York City, raise its minimum wage to around $13 an hour based an a cost-of-living formula. State Democratic lawmakers in Westchester have also been clamoring for local flexibility to increase the minimum wage, led by Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
Cuomo said overall his endorsement by the Working Families Party in exchange for a pledge to help Democrats regain the majority in the Senate doesn’t mean he’ll back all Democrats. He said he supports the party’s ideals, such as strengthening abortion rights and increasing the minimum wage — which is $8 and will rise to $9 at the end of 2015.
“This is about electing people who support an agenda. I also will oppose Democrats who have opposed the things that we’ve tried to pass,” Cuomo explained. “I’ve been trying to pass something called the Women’s Equality Act that protects a women’s right to choose in New York.
“There are Democrats who do not support that. So it’s not as easy as saying all Democrats are good, all Republicans are bad, or vice versa. You have to also look at the issues and where people stand on the issues and that’s what voters will be doing.”
As for his victory over Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham University law professor who also sought the party’s nod, that’s the way it goes.
“It’s very simple at these political conventions: You either win or you lose and, I won and I’m very happy to have their support,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo’s GOP opponent, Rob Astorino, criticized Cuomo and announced he’s having a news conference tomorrow morning to knock the deal, claiming Cuomo “sold out New Yorkers in exchange for political support from a fringe third-party founded by ACORN.”
As for Teachout, she says she’s not going away and didn’t rule out a primary against Cuomo, calling him “untrustworthy.”
“If we are to tackle power, we must first build it among ourselves,” she said in a statement. “I plan to keep working with New Yorkers – and with the Working Families Party – in the months and years ahead to amass this power. This is just the beginning.”