Pay Raise Politics
With the biennial float of a legislative pay raise now officially underway, advocates on the left are warning lawmakers not to think of hiking their own bottom line without also giving some assistance to low-wage workers in New York.
During a CapTon interview last night, Strong Economy for All’s Mike Kink warned of “widespread civil disobedience” if legislators return to Albany before the end of the year to boost their $79,500 base pay and fail to take action on increasing the hourly minimum wage to at least $10.10 – if not higher.
“The idea that the Legislature could raise their own pay from 79 grand, plus they’re working at law firms and other side jobs, versus people that are working full time and stuck in poverty is outrageous,” Kink said.
“And I know that there’s a lot of legislators that will not do that. I think that is a line in the sand that advocates could come together on, and hopefully legislators could do the right thing and do it together if they’re going to do it.”
So far, the float, first reported by the DN’s Ken Lovett, isn’t taking off.
The TU’s Casey Seiler and Matthew Hamilton report this morning that they weren’t able to find a single Capital Region lawmaker willing to go on the record as a “yes” vote for hiking his or her own pay.
However, several said they might be willing to consider such a thing if it also included reforms to the much-criticized (and sometimes criminally abused) legislative per diem system.
None of the lawmakers interviewed by the TU mentioned anything about linking a legislative pay raise to a minimum wage increase.
Advocates are hopeful the governor, who mentioned minimum wage as a top priority in his election night victory speech, will include it in his 2015-16 budget proposal – like he did with the last minimum wage bump that legislative leaders agreed to in 2013.
That deal calls for raising the state’s hourly wage to $9 by 2016, but did not, as advocates had hoped, index future increases to the rate of inflation. It also did not address NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desire for cities to be given the ability to boost their respective minimum wages over the state’s floor if they so desire.
Last February, Cuomo panned that idea, saying it would be “chaotic” and cause cities to “compete against themselves.”
But he changed his tune when he signed on the WFP’s agenda in exchange for the labor-backed party’s endorsement this past spring – a deal brokered by de Blasio.
“We have to recognize the difference in the cost of living in different markets,” Cuomo said in early June.
“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.”
Then again, Cuomo didn’t exactly stick to his entire deal with the WFP. Democrats say he didn’t do nearly enough to fulfill his promise to help them re-take the Senate.
It remains to be seen how far the governor will go when it comes to the rest of the so-called progressive agenda, including the DREAM Act, minimum wage, public campaign finance and the WEA.
So far, however, there has been no noise coming from the second floor about trading any of those items – or anything else, for that matter – for legislative pay raises.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on November 11, 2014 at 7:11 am, and is filed under Minimum Wage. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|