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NYS Assembly Contemplates Raising Minimum Wage

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D –Manhattan) introduced a bill Monday that could raise New York State’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour. Silver promised to address the issue before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address in early January.

Assembly member Sandy Galef (D - Ossining) said, “Some of the business community has contacted me, so I’ll continue to listen to them, but I’m not sure of the real negative impact of that. They say they won’t hire as many people and the youth won’t get summer jobs, but some of the businesses I’ve spoken to don’t pay minimum wage, they pay much higher than that.”

Galef said she remains uncertain of which way she'll vote, but said she's leaning toward supporting the bill. Assembly member Robert Castelli (R, C, I - Goldens Bridge) said he supports a slight increase in the minimum wage, but cannot say whether he would back the Democrats’ proposal until he sees legislation containing concrete numbers.

“Everybody should be paid a decent and livable wage. New York, unfortunately, the cost of living is that much greater. It makes sense that the minimum wage be raised, but I’m not entirely sure of how much it should be raised,” Castelli said. “Until we actually see the bill, we don’t know what the impact is and, therefore, we can’t calculate the cost to the state. Even a minimal wage can have a very dramatic impact on the state.”

New York's minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage.

Some studies have been circulated by the Employment Policies Institute , a nonprofit organization that was reported to be connected to Washington D.C. lobbyist Rick Berman , of Berman and Company. The institute released a study titled, “Are the Effects of Minimum Wage Increases Always Small? New Evidence from a Case Study of New York State.” Berman has been reported to be a top lobbyist for food and beverage groups.

The study asserts that raising minimum wage could cause businesses to hire fewer workers and could disproportionately affect the less educated and young, between the ages of 16 and 24-years-old.

Many opponents of raising the minimum wage suggest that small businesses would suffer if the minimum wage were raised. A 2006 Wells Fargo/ Gallup Small Business Index poll suggests otherwise, with a majority of 86 percent saying it doesn't affect their business.

Currently, the minimum wage for food service workers who are tipped is $5, employees of resort hotels have a minimum wage of $4.90. Many officials cite employees making minimum wage as earning about $15,000 per year. The 2012 federal poverty level for individuals is $11,170.