Updated 05/15/2012 08:09 PM
Assembly passes minimum wage bill
The Democrat-controlled State Assembly passed a bill Tuesday to raise the state's minimum wage, but the bill faces a much tougher battle in the Republican-led Senate. As Zack Fink reports, it's unclear how hard the governor will push the issue ahead of the end of the legislative session next month.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver declared in early January that raising the minimum wage was his top legislative priority. Since then, he has presented the issue as a choice between right and wrong.
"I think when push comes to shove, it’s a moral issue," Silver said.
But despite his considerable push, it's unclear if the proposal to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 has enough support to pass both houses and be signed into law.
"I'm just telling you that we will not pass the speaker's bill," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
While Republicans call an increase a job killer, Democrats say the opposite is true.
"Research supports that over the past 15 years, higher wages do not result in job losses, even for minimum wage increases during the weak economic periods," Assemblyman Keith Wright said.
Polls show New Yorkers favor an increase but the governor has not committed to pushing for its passage.
"I've had conversations with the governor as recently as yesterday and I think if you ask him today, you'll find that he is very supportive," Silver said.
But in a statement late Tuesday, the governor's spokesman said, "The governor supports raising the minimum wage, as we have made clear repeatedly. Unfortunately, we do not believe there will be an agreement this session, as we have also said repeatedly."
Senator Jeff Klein of the four-member Independent Democratic conference is the Senate sponsor. He says his conference, being separate from the other Democrats, could help the bill's chances.
"Well, I certainly hope that is the case. That is the reason picked up the bill. Because I think it's an important issue and I want to make sure it gets done before the end of session," Klein said.
There had been some discussion about the governor issuing an executive order to raise the minimum wage, but administration officials now say it must be done legislatively.