March 12, 2015

Assembly Families First Budget Would Raise the Minimum Wage for Over One Million Workers

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Labor Committee Chair Michele Titus today announced that the Assembly budget proposal will build on the Assembly Majority's commitment to put families first by gradually raising the state's minimum wage over the next three years to $12.60 an hour by 2018 and index it to inflation.

Under the proposal, the state's minimum wage would increase to $10.50 an hour on December 31, 2016 then to $12.60 an hour on December 31, 2018. For tipped workers, it would be raised to $7.50 an hour on December 31, 2016 then to $9 an hour the following year.

In Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, Kings, Richmond, Bronx, New York and Westchester counties, the minimum wage would increase to $12.50 an hour in 2016, then to $15 an hour in 2018. For tipped workers, it would be raised to $9.50 an hour, then to $11.40 an hour in 2018.

"Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by," said Speaker Heastie. "The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40- hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence. It is unconscionable to leave these workers trapped in an endless financial balancing act with their ability to care for themselves and their loved ones at the mercy of factors beyond their control."

Finally, once the minimum wage has reached a level that more closely reflects the state's high cost of living, by December 31, 2018, it would be indexed to inflation beginning in 2019, to provide for annual adjustments that will ensure that New Yorkers would be paid meaningful wages for the labor they provide.

In recent years, data has consistently shown that while there have been significant gains in job creation since the end of the Great Recession, the majority of these new jobs are in minimum-wage paying sectors like retail, hospitality and the service industry. With the high turnover rates and minimal job security that are endemic to these sectors, this means more and more of New York's workers have become vulnerable to hunger and homelessness.

"Although New York's unemployment rate has steadily improved, the reality is that workers will accept opportunity wherever it becomes available," said Titus. "In the post-recession era, it is our duty to ensure that these men and women are not forced to subsidize the cost of doing business, for wages that are not even enough to reduce their reliance on public assistance for food and shelter."