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Governor proposes raising minimum wage

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Buffalo: Governor proposes raising minimum wage
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Governor Cuomo is also proposing raising the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. Grace Rauh has more on how the Governor wants New Yorkers at the low end of the income ladder to earn more.

NEW YORK STATE -- If you work at a full time minimum wage job in New York, earning $7.25 an hour, you make about $15,000 a year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “We propose raising the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. It's the right thing to do. It's the fair thing to do. It is long overdue. We should have done it last year. Let's do it this year.”

Many supporters of a minimum wage hike were quick to applaud the move.

“People in the state are hurting. They are struggling to survive. And it is long past time,” said Stuart Appelbaum of RWDSU.

But some are worried that the Governor's plan lacks a key element: It does not call for future wage increases that would be tied to the rate of inflation.

Appelbaum said, “We need to include a mechanism that will insure the minimum wage will rise.”

The Business Council of New York State is concerned about the proposal as well, for another reason. Officials there worry that a rise in the minimum wage would create new costs for businesses. Republicans in the state Senate have opposed an increase as well.

“We have to do more to help businesses grow and create new jobs,” said State Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos.

Albany lawmakers have been debating the issue for the past year. Last January, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver proposed raising the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50, with future increases that would be tied to the rate of inflation. At the time, Governor Cuomo refused to endorse the plan, saying he would study the proposal.

The Independent Democratic Conference, which is sharing power with Republicans in the Senate, supports a minimum wage increase.

If the governor's plan is approved by state lawmakers, New York would have one of the highest minimum wages in the country.

In places like New York City, there are calls for the minimum wage to go up even more. City Comptroller John Liu recently proposed raising it over the next five years to $11.50 an hour.

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