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New minimum wage simply doesn’t add up

Let’s do some math regarding the recent hike in the state minimum wage.

The number of Democrats elected to the State Senate: 33.

The number of Republicans elected to the State Senate: 30.

The number of senators who said they supported raising the minimum wage right away to $9 an hour: 32 (a majority).

The percentage of New York voters who supported raising the minimum wage: 80 percent.

Then how did we come up with a minimum wage hike of only $8 an hour this year? Sen. Jeff Klein and his Independent Democrat Conference. Five Democrats gave power to the minority Republicans in order to make “democracy work” better.

Money low-income workers will lose by delaying the minimum wage hike to $9 an hour over three years, and then no indexing: $1.2 billion. Maybe more. Money that workers could have used to feed their family, pay the landlord or utility company or buy clothes. And tip workers were dropped. They now have to wait for the Labor Department to rule on a new wage order.

Republican senators wanted a subminimum wage for young workers. No one else did. So what did the other three men in the back room agree to: the first tax credit in the United States to subsidize employers – including Walmart, McDonald’s and Burger King – if they hire young workers at the minimum wage.

The cost to taxpayers: $20 million to $40 million a year, or more. No one really knows. But it creates incentives for employers to increase the number of low-wage jobs that it fills with teenagers paid exactly the minimum wage rate.

What does Klein get as a reward? A bigger office and a higher lulu.

This is not how democracy is supposed to work.

Mark A. Dunlea

Executive Director

Hunger Action Network of NYS