kleinwhitehouseFrom the Morning Memo:

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein is backing legislation that would provide a boost in the minimum wage for home-care attendants to $15 by raising the cap on Medicaid.

The proposal comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo in recent months has pushed for a broader minimum wage increase and through executive authority hiked the wage for workers in the fast-food industry as well as state and SUNY employees.

“These are some of the hardest working people that take care of our elderly loved ones when we can’t,” Klein said in an interview. So, what we want to do is make sure they not only get a $15 minimum wage, but there’s a way to pay for it. We want to raise the cap on Medicaid so that reimbursement level increases so we can pay these workers $15.”

The proposal will be something Klein wants to prioritize in the upcoming budget negotiations, which will begin in earnest next week when Cuomo unveils his 2016-17 spending plan on Wednesday to lawmakers.

“Medicaid reimbursement hasn’t increased for home care attendants for some time,” Klein said. “We have to be mindful if we’re going to make them pay $15 for a minimum wage, and they’re relying exclusively on Medicaid dollars, it just makes sense to raise the cap and the reimbursement rate for Medicaid.”

Senate Republicans are yet to rule out a minimum wage increase, but have expressed reservations with Cuomo’s proposal for a $15 minim wage. The current wage in New York is $9, which increase from $8.75 on Jan. 1.

Updated: 1199 SEIU President George Gresham praised Klein’s backing of the legislation.

“We applaud the Independent Democratic Conference’s endorsement of a $15 wage for homecare and other human service workers as well as the Conference’s support for funding so that providers can pay the increased wages. We are gratified that the IDC recognizes the dedication of homecare workers providing compassionate care for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Gresham, who is leading the camapign for the $15 minimum wage. “Despite their vital work, many home care workers are forced to rely on food stamps and other public assistance to survive and care for their own children. Studies show that raising wages would not only lift workers out of poverty, but also reduce turnover and improve the quality of care for vulnerable clients. We look forward to working with the Conference on this and other proposals important to working New Yorkers.”