Gotham Gazette Gotham Gazette is an online publication covering New York policy and politics as well as news on public safety, transportation, education, finance and more. http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/strong-economy-for-all 2017-10-18T00:07:19+00:00 Webmaster webmaster@gothamgazette.com Heastie Takes to Twitter to Respond to Cuomo on Tax Plan 2016-02-09T21:43:46+00:00 2016-02-09T21:43:46+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6158:heastie-takes-to-twitter-to-respond-to-cuomo-on-tax-plan kfan <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/16661826220_ab418ac175_z.jpg" alt="cuomo heastie standing photo" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo and Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's Twitter account lit up Tuesday with <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697117783272919040" target="_blank">a stream</a> of "fun facts" about income inequality and his proposed millionaire's tax just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the plan.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Fun Fact: New Yorkers earning more than $10 Million pay only 16.2% of NY’s taxes <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MillionairesTax?src=hash">#MillionairesTax</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697113879990681601">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>"I don't believe there's any reason or appetite to take up taxes this year," Cuomo told reporters on Monday, responding to questions about the taxation agenda put forth by the Democratic Assembly majority on Feb. 2, which calls for increasing taxes on the state's highest earners.</p> <p>Heastie's tweet storm appeared to be a rebuke to Cuomo, though it did not mention the governor by name.</p> <p>A few hours after Heastie's tweets stopped, the Working Families Party issued its own retort. "We need our tax system to put working families first, not hedge funds and wealthy campaign donors. That's what both Democratic presidential candidates have been calling for, and it's what New Yorkers expect from our elected officials in Albany too," said WFP New York State Director Bill Lipton in a statement.</p> <p>Heastie surprised some when he proposed expanding and extending the state's millionaire's tax that isn't set to expire until 2017. Assembly Democrats' plan would create a number of higher tax brackets with those who earn from $1 million to $5 million a year paying the state's current highest rate of 8.82 percent. Those earning from $5 to $10 million annually would pay 9.32 percent and those making over $10 million would pay 9.82 percent.</p> <p>The increase for millionaires would be paired with a middle-class tax cut. And according to Heastie the income generated by new tax brackets would add funding to education, infrastructure repair, and "other priorities."</p> <p>Many see Heastie's plan as a way to strengthen his position as leader, cater to major interest groups that back his conference, and give him a popular proposal to use during budget negotiations.</p> <p>Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said that higher taxes would drive millionaires out of the state. "We don't support raising taxes," replied Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference when asked for a comment on Heastie's tweets.</p> <p>A spokesperon for Gov. Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, said by email that&nbsp;"What the public is hungry for, post Shelly Silver, is ethics reform -- specifically the pension forfeiture bill that was agreed to last year and promptly reneged on by the assembly. We hope they will join us this year and pass this and the other important reforms the Governor outlined."</p> <p>Heastie's office did not reply to inquiries about whether Heastie was the author of the tweets. As the day progressed, Heastie's spokesperon, Mike Whyland, also took to Twitter on the subject, and more directly <a href="https://twitter.com/mwhyland/status/697217790827237376" target="_blank">criticized the governor</a>.</p> <p>The speaker's earlier messages had a distinctly populist tone:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">NYers are hungry for a system that puts the working poor and middle class ahead of millionaires <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IncomeInequality?src=hash">#IncomeInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FairShare?src=hash">#FairShare</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697116858835668992">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>E.J. McMahon, director of the fiscally conservative Empire Center, quickly responded to Heastie on Twitter, questioning the data Heastie cited and combatting the notion he said Heastie was propagating that millionaires don't pay anything.</p> <p>"The whole premise that they are not paying their fair share is nonsense," McMahon told Gotham Gazette of millionaires and taxes. "There is no standard in existence under which they don't pay a major share of their income. Eighty percent of filers in New York pay 15 percent of the taxes collected."</p> <p>"The premise of these tweets is unsupported by facts," McMahon continued. "They aren't tweeting 'Hey, we need money and here is the best way to get it.' The whole point of these tweets seems to be to make someone who doesn't know better think millionaires aren't paying anything and that just isn't true."</p> <p>McMahon said that he felt Heastie's tax proposal was motivated by the education lobby that wants to see an increase in education spending. Cuomo's budget factors in a 4 percent increase in education spending but advocates and unions have demanded no less than eight percent.</p> <p>"You can see the people who support this and are retweeting Heastie are the people tied to the education lobby who think taxes can never be high enough," said McMahon.</p> <p>Michael Kink, director of Strong Economy for All, a labor-backed progressive group falling into the category mentioned by McMahon, praised Heastie's proposal and said that it is about funding schools as well as having enough funding for other major proposals and needs.</p> <p>Kink and his allies appear ready to hammer Gov. Cuomo on recent infrastructure problems such as a water main break in Troy that shut off water to at least two towns and the environmental disaster in Hoosick where it was found that toxic chemicals had poisoned the public water supply. Cuomo has recently tried to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/02/8590505/cuomo-downplays-slow-state-action-hoosick-falls?top-featured-image" target="_blank">downplay</a> the Hoosick issue.</p> <p>"Assembly members have sat in day-long hearings about the budget and heard parents and students testify they need school funding, heard businesses say they support the $15 minimum wage but need some help so it doesn't overburden them; they know about the water line explosion in Troy and not too far away they've seen families drinking poisoned water coming out of a source that should have been overseen by an agency that is suffering under the governor's austerity budget," Kink told Gotham Gazette. "If the state wants to meet these significant needs it is entirely responsible to have a strong funding mechanism."</p> <p>Kink said that the tenor of the presidential race shows that the electorate is in a populist mood. "I think these will be an interesting set of budget negotiations because the Assembly is more in tune with the populist mood than Flanagan or the austerity version of Governor Cuomo," Kink said.</p> <p>The idea that there are 'two versions' of Cuomo have supporters of the tax plan ready to campaign hard for it as they've seen Cuomo flip on proposals after gauging voter sentiment. It was only last year that Cuomo said a $13 minimum wage was a non-starter and there was "no appetite" for paid family leave. Now the Governor has made a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave top priorities, expressing strong personal connections to both issues.</p> <p>McMahon notes that Cuomo actually changed his position on the millionaire's tax in 2011. "He pivoted in 2011 on this issue. So nothing he says is frankly dispositive that this tax will be part of the budget," said McMahon. "The fact [the governor] does things like this encourages them to keep pushing."</p> <p>Karen Scharff of Citizen Action NY, a grassroots progressive group that supports Heastie's plan, said she certainly won't be writing off the plan until the budget is actually decided on, since negotiations tend to lead to surprising results, no matter what any stakeholder has said. "This is the right time for this plan because one, the wealthiest New Yorkers are wealthier than ever, and, at the same time, the state has desperate needs that have to be funded. Every year things in the budget are up in the air until negotiations are over. And they aren't over."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated with comment from the governor's spokesperson and news of social media response from Heastie's spokesperson.</p>
<p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/16661826220_ab418ac175_z.jpg" alt="cuomo heastie standing photo" height="400" width="600" /></p> <p>Cuomo and Heastie (photo: The Governor's Office)</p> <hr /> <p>Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie's Twitter account lit up Tuesday with <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697117783272919040" target="_blank">a stream</a> of "fun facts" about income inequality and his proposed millionaire's tax just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the plan.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Fun Fact: New Yorkers earning more than $10 Million pay only 16.2% of NY’s taxes <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MillionairesTax?src=hash">#MillionairesTax</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697113879990681601">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>"I don't believe there's any reason or appetite to take up taxes this year," Cuomo told reporters on Monday, responding to questions about the taxation agenda put forth by the Democratic Assembly majority on Feb. 2, which calls for increasing taxes on the state's highest earners.</p> <p>Heastie's tweet storm appeared to be a rebuke to Cuomo, though it did not mention the governor by name.</p> <p>A few hours after Heastie's tweets stopped, the Working Families Party issued its own retort. "We need our tax system to put working families first, not hedge funds and wealthy campaign donors. That's what both Democratic presidential candidates have been calling for, and it's what New Yorkers expect from our elected officials in Albany too," said WFP New York State Director Bill Lipton in a statement.</p> <p>Heastie surprised some when he proposed expanding and extending the state's millionaire's tax that isn't set to expire until 2017. Assembly Democrats' plan would create a number of higher tax brackets with those who earn from $1 million to $5 million a year paying the state's current highest rate of 8.82 percent. Those earning from $5 to $10 million annually would pay 9.32 percent and those making over $10 million would pay 9.82 percent.</p> <p>The increase for millionaires would be paired with a middle-class tax cut. And according to Heastie the income generated by new tax brackets would add funding to education, infrastructure repair, and "other priorities."</p> <p>Many see Heastie's plan as a way to strengthen his position as leader, cater to major interest groups that back his conference, and give him a popular proposal to use during budget negotiations.</p> <p>Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said that higher taxes would drive millionaires out of the state. "We don't support raising taxes," replied Scott Reif, spokesperson for the Senate Republican Conference when asked for a comment on Heastie's tweets.</p> <p>A spokesperon for Gov. Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, said by email that&nbsp;"What the public is hungry for, post Shelly Silver, is ethics reform -- specifically the pension forfeiture bill that was agreed to last year and promptly reneged on by the assembly. We hope they will join us this year and pass this and the other important reforms the Governor outlined."</p> <p>Heastie's office did not reply to inquiries about whether Heastie was the author of the tweets. As the day progressed, Heastie's spokesperon, Mike Whyland, also took to Twitter on the subject, and more directly <a href="https://twitter.com/mwhyland/status/697217790827237376" target="_blank">criticized the governor</a>.</p> <p>The speaker's earlier messages had a distinctly populist tone:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">NYers are hungry for a system that puts the working poor and middle class ahead of millionaires <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYInequality?src=hash">#NYInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IncomeInequality?src=hash">#IncomeInequality</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FairShare?src=hash">#FairShare</a></p> — Carl E. Heastie (@CarlHeastie) <a href="https://twitter.com/CarlHeastie/status/697116858835668992">February 9, 2016</a></blockquote> <p>E.J. McMahon, director of the fiscally conservative Empire Center, quickly responded to Heastie on Twitter, questioning the data Heastie cited and combatting the notion he said Heastie was propagating that millionaires don't pay anything.</p> <p>"The whole premise that they are not paying their fair share is nonsense," McMahon told Gotham Gazette of millionaires and taxes. "There is no standard in existence under which they don't pay a major share of their income. Eighty percent of filers in New York pay 15 percent of the taxes collected."</p> <p>"The premise of these tweets is unsupported by facts," McMahon continued. "They aren't tweeting 'Hey, we need money and here is the best way to get it.' The whole point of these tweets seems to be to make someone who doesn't know better think millionaires aren't paying anything and that just isn't true."</p> <p>McMahon said that he felt Heastie's tax proposal was motivated by the education lobby that wants to see an increase in education spending. Cuomo's budget factors in a 4 percent increase in education spending but advocates and unions have demanded no less than eight percent.</p> <p>"You can see the people who support this and are retweeting Heastie are the people tied to the education lobby who think taxes can never be high enough," said McMahon.</p> <p>Michael Kink, director of Strong Economy for All, a labor-backed progressive group falling into the category mentioned by McMahon, praised Heastie's proposal and said that it is about funding schools as well as having enough funding for other major proposals and needs.</p> <p>Kink and his allies appear ready to hammer Gov. Cuomo on recent infrastructure problems such as a water main break in Troy that shut off water to at least two towns and the environmental disaster in Hoosick where it was found that toxic chemicals had poisoned the public water supply. Cuomo has recently tried to <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/02/8590505/cuomo-downplays-slow-state-action-hoosick-falls?top-featured-image" target="_blank">downplay</a> the Hoosick issue.</p> <p>"Assembly members have sat in day-long hearings about the budget and heard parents and students testify they need school funding, heard businesses say they support the $15 minimum wage but need some help so it doesn't overburden them; they know about the water line explosion in Troy and not too far away they've seen families drinking poisoned water coming out of a source that should have been overseen by an agency that is suffering under the governor's austerity budget," Kink told Gotham Gazette. "If the state wants to meet these significant needs it is entirely responsible to have a strong funding mechanism."</p> <p>Kink said that the tenor of the presidential race shows that the electorate is in a populist mood. "I think these will be an interesting set of budget negotiations because the Assembly is more in tune with the populist mood than Flanagan or the austerity version of Governor Cuomo," Kink said.</p> <p>The idea that there are 'two versions' of Cuomo have supporters of the tax plan ready to campaign hard for it as they've seen Cuomo flip on proposals after gauging voter sentiment. It was only last year that Cuomo said a $13 minimum wage was a non-starter and there was "no appetite" for paid family leave. Now the Governor has made a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave top priorities, expressing strong personal connections to both issues.</p> <p>McMahon notes that Cuomo actually changed his position on the millionaire's tax in 2011. "He pivoted in 2011 on this issue. So nothing he says is frankly dispositive that this tax will be part of the budget," said McMahon. "The fact [the governor] does things like this encourages them to keep pushing."</p> <p>Karen Scharff of Citizen Action NY, a grassroots progressive group that supports Heastie's plan, said she certainly won't be writing off the plan until the budget is actually decided on, since negotiations tend to lead to surprising results, no matter what any stakeholder has said. "This is the right time for this plan because one, the wealthiest New Yorkers are wealthier than ever, and, at the same time, the state has desperate needs that have to be funded. Every year things in the budget are up in the air until negotiations are over. And they aren't over."</p> <p>

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

</p> <p>Note: this story has been updated with comment from the governor's spokesperson and news of social media response from Heastie's spokesperson.</p>
On Minimum Wage, Cuomo Again Finds the Not-So-Happy Middle 2015-03-12T17:07:54+00:00 2015-03-12T17:07:54+00:00 http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5627:on-minimum-wage-cuomo-again-finds-the-not-so-happy-middle Super User <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/cuomo_fair_pay.png" alt="cuomo fair pay" height="318" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo pushing his minimum wage hike (photo: @NYGovCuomo)</span></p> <hr /> <p>The middle ground is a particularly familiar place for Governor Andrew Cuomo - and it is where he has put himself in the debate over increasing the state's minimum wage. Cuomo has come under fire this week from electeds and advocates on the left who support a significantly larger increase to the wage than the one Cuomo has proposed and from conservative officials and business groups that oppose any increase whatsoever.</p> <p>Cuomo and his proxies have toured the state this month promoting a proposal that would increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 an hour and New York City's to $11.50, even touting the support of a variety of <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/union-leaders-back-cuomos-minimum-wage-push/" target="_blank">labor unions</a> and some <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/wylde-scissura-business-raise-wage-article-1.2146043" target="_blank">city business reps</a>. Cuomo and the Legislature enacted a staggered wage increase in 2013 that is set to culminate with a $9 statewide minimum at the end of this year. But, Cuomo now sees that as insufficient.</p> <p>"I want to increase the minimum wage in this state, because the truth is the minimum wage is at $9, that's $18,000 a year, and you cannot live in this state and raise a family on $18,000 a year. You can't pay the rent, you can't pay for food, you can't pay for insurance, and you can't buy clothes on $18,000 a year," Cuomo said at a rally in Rochester focused on his upstate agenda.</p> <p>He continued: "The Assembly wants to raise it to $15 an hour. God bless them—shoot for the stars - that's what they did in the Assembly. The Senate is totally against raising the minimum wage. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, I proposed raising $9 to $10.50 statewide. Often, the political truth is in the middle."</p> <p>There may be no better, simpler summation of Cuomo's governing philosophy than that.</p> <p>The State Senate's one-house budget proposal contains no minimum wage increase while the Assembly's would set New York City's minimum wage independently of the state's and tie it to inflation. Per the Assembly outline, the state's minimum wage would be $10.50 by 2017, $12.60 by 2019 and the city's and surrounding suburbs would reach $12.50, then $15 at those times.</p> <p>In a statement, new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by. The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40- hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence."</p> <p>Cuomo's proposal shirks promises he made to the Working Families Party last spring in exchange for its endorsement that he would back a plan to allow the city to increase its minimum wage in connection to the rate of inflation. Mayor Bill de Blaiso, who helped broker the deal between Cuomo and the WFP, is still a major supporter of giving the city control of its own minimum wage and linking it to inflation, as are many Democrats in the state Legislature. The mayor has even <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-appeals-to-businesses-to-raise-workers-pay.html?_r=0" target="_blank">asked</a> city businesses to start voluntarily paying a $13 hourly minimum.</p> <p>Despite his public campaigning on the issue, Cuomo has given signals that he is wavering.</p> <p>"I hope to get it done this legislative session either in the budget, which is April, or at the end of the legislative session in June," Cuomo reportedly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/cuomo-opens-door-to-minimum-wage-outside-of-the-budget/" target="_blank">said</a> during an appearance in Buffalo. Putting anything out of the budget and into policy negotiations thereafter gives it less weight, but could lead to expanded time for negotiation.</p> <p>Advocates like Michael Kink of <a href="http://strongforall.org" target="_blank">Strong Economy for All</a> say that if Cuomo is serious about the wage increase he will not abandon it in budget negotiations. "I think obviously he has the most leverage in the budget. It is the only time where all three sides have to agree on something so there will always be something in the budget each of the three leaders view as main," Kink said. "They can stomach something they oppose to get a big win. Obviously Cuomo's priority is the privatization of education and charter schools. I'm glad he is working on it (the minimum wage), but the fact that he is going in signaling he is willing let it go is disturbing."</p> <p>State Sen. Liz Krueger said it was "troubling" to hear Cuomo indicate he could deal with the minimum wage outside of the budget. "This is the place to get this done and this is the one economic proposal that will help everyone across the state."</p> <p>Kink doesn't feel Cuomo's wage proposal goes far enough. "We want a wage hike that will a make difference in workers' lives," said Kink. "Fastfood workers didn't start fighting for $9.50, they wanted something that would help people pay bills and lead their lives. That's why they started 'The Fight for 15.'"</p> <p>Meanwhile, a group of business interests, upstate chambers of commerce, and conservative advocacy groups joined together this week to oppose even Cuomo's smaller wage proposal.</p> <p>"Any attempt to increase the minimum wage before full implementation [of the plan in place] should be rejected," the groups <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/new-york-business-groups-we-oppose-push-to-raise-state/article_5d5ca8f6-c811-11e4-b0f5-f3dfe18e6713.html" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We strongly urge Albany to continue the progress made in improving New York's economic competitiveness while focusing on pro-growth initiatives as budget negotiations enter this final stretch."&nbsp;Members of the coalition include The Business Council, Unshackle Upstate, The Farm Bureau of NY, and The National Federation of Independent Business.</p> <p>The groups say that the full impact of the state's last minimum wage hike on businesses is not yet apparent as the $9 wage won't go into effect until the end of the year.</p> <p>Business groups took offense earlier this month because Cuomo unveiled his "Fight for Fair Pay" <a href="https://www.ny.gov/programs/fight-fair-pay" target="_blank">campaign</a> while they held their small business lobby day at the capitol.</p> <p>"Gov. Cuomo's campaign to increase the minimum wage could push struggling small businesses over the edge," Greg Biryla, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a statement on March 3. "For employers who are trying to create new jobs and expand their business, another minimum wage increase and an added $69 million in new health care taxes would be a brutal combination. Albany needs to focus on improving the state's business climate – not make it more toxic."</p> <p>Senate Republicans have not included a minimum wage increase in their budget proposal but some members <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/golden-doesnt-slam-door-on-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">indicate</a> it is an issue they are willing to negotiate. However, they note that not only is the state's last wage wage increase not fully implemented, but that the Labor Department also <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/02/8562759/state-orders-minimum-wage-increase-tipped-workers" target="_blank">just increased</a> the minimum wage for tipped workers in February.</p> <p>Kink said that Cuomo's public support of a minimum wage increase is "valuable" but also just makes political sense. "This is a tremendously popular issue for voters in both parties," Kink said. "I'd love to see increased aggression from the governor on the minimum wage. I'd like to see him throw the kind of ferocity into the faces of minimum wage opponents that he shows to the groups opposed to his education agenda."</p> <p>Cuomo's public support of a wage increase isn't exactly typical of the governor. He has been criticized by advocates in the past for not stumping on specific policies.This time Cuomo has been on the road and his office is issuing press releases in support of the increase.</p> <p>"The sweetest and healthiest success is one that enables everyone to do well together – that is what community is all about," Cuomo said announcing his "Fight For Fair Pay."</p> <p>"As our economy recovers and our businesses add new jobs, we need to ensure our entire workforce has the opportunity to be part of the economic recovery and new momentum we are seeing in all corners of the State," the governor said. "New York has always been a leader in protecting our workers and building strong communities, and this year we must continue to move forward by fighting for fair pay and raising the minimum wage statewide."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p> <p><img src="http://www.gothamgazette.com/images/graphics/2014/03/cuomo_fair_pay.png" alt="cuomo fair pay" height="318" width="600" /></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt;">Gov. Cuomo pushing his minimum wage hike (photo: @NYGovCuomo)</span></p> <hr /> <p>The middle ground is a particularly familiar place for Governor Andrew Cuomo - and it is where he has put himself in the debate over increasing the state's minimum wage. Cuomo has come under fire this week from electeds and advocates on the left who support a significantly larger increase to the wage than the one Cuomo has proposed and from conservative officials and business groups that oppose any increase whatsoever.</p> <p>Cuomo and his proxies have toured the state this month promoting a proposal that would increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 an hour and New York City's to $11.50, even touting the support of a variety of <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/union-leaders-back-cuomos-minimum-wage-push/" target="_blank">labor unions</a> and some <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/wylde-scissura-business-raise-wage-article-1.2146043" target="_blank">city business reps</a>. Cuomo and the Legislature enacted a staggered wage increase in 2013 that is set to culminate with a $9 statewide minimum at the end of this year. But, Cuomo now sees that as insufficient.</p> <p>"I want to increase the minimum wage in this state, because the truth is the minimum wage is at $9, that's $18,000 a year, and you cannot live in this state and raise a family on $18,000 a year. You can't pay the rent, you can't pay for food, you can't pay for insurance, and you can't buy clothes on $18,000 a year," Cuomo said at a rally in Rochester focused on his upstate agenda.</p> <p>He continued: "The Assembly wants to raise it to $15 an hour. God bless them—shoot for the stars - that's what they did in the Assembly. The Senate is totally against raising the minimum wage. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, I proposed raising $9 to $10.50 statewide. Often, the political truth is in the middle."</p> <p>There may be no better, simpler summation of Cuomo's governing philosophy than that.</p> <p>The State Senate's one-house budget proposal contains no minimum wage increase while the Assembly's would set New York City's minimum wage independently of the state's and tie it to inflation. Per the Assembly outline, the state's minimum wage would be $10.50 by 2017, $12.60 by 2019 and the city's and surrounding suburbs would reach $12.50, then $15 at those times.</p> <p>In a statement, new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by. The current wage floor is not enough to allow full-time workers who put in a 40- hour work week to afford life's basic necessities, let alone achieve financial independence."</p> <p>Cuomo's proposal shirks promises he made to the Working Families Party last spring in exchange for its endorsement that he would back a plan to allow the city to increase its minimum wage in connection to the rate of inflation. Mayor Bill de Blaiso, who helped broker the deal between Cuomo and the WFP, is still a major supporter of giving the city control of its own minimum wage and linking it to inflation, as are many Democrats in the state Legislature. The mayor has even <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/nyregion/mayor-de-blasio-appeals-to-businesses-to-raise-workers-pay.html?_r=0" target="_blank">asked</a> city businesses to start voluntarily paying a $13 hourly minimum.</p> <p>Despite his public campaigning on the issue, Cuomo has given signals that he is wavering.</p> <p>"I hope to get it done this legislative session either in the budget, which is April, or at the end of the legislative session in June," Cuomo reportedly&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/cuomo-opens-door-to-minimum-wage-outside-of-the-budget/" target="_blank">said</a> during an appearance in Buffalo. Putting anything out of the budget and into policy negotiations thereafter gives it less weight, but could lead to expanded time for negotiation.</p> <p>Advocates like Michael Kink of <a href="http://strongforall.org" target="_blank">Strong Economy for All</a> say that if Cuomo is serious about the wage increase he will not abandon it in budget negotiations. "I think obviously he has the most leverage in the budget. It is the only time where all three sides have to agree on something so there will always be something in the budget each of the three leaders view as main," Kink said. "They can stomach something they oppose to get a big win. Obviously Cuomo's priority is the privatization of education and charter schools. I'm glad he is working on it (the minimum wage), but the fact that he is going in signaling he is willing let it go is disturbing."</p> <p>State Sen. Liz Krueger said it was "troubling" to hear Cuomo indicate he could deal with the minimum wage outside of the budget. "This is the place to get this done and this is the one economic proposal that will help everyone across the state."</p> <p>Kink doesn't feel Cuomo's wage proposal goes far enough. "We want a wage hike that will a make difference in workers' lives," said Kink. "Fastfood workers didn't start fighting for $9.50, they wanted something that would help people pay bills and lead their lives. That's why they started 'The Fight for 15.'"</p> <p>Meanwhile, a group of business interests, upstate chambers of commerce, and conservative advocacy groups joined together this week to oppose even Cuomo's smaller wage proposal.</p> <p>"Any attempt to increase the minimum wage before full implementation [of the plan in place] should be rejected," the groups <a href="http://auburnpub.com/blogs/eye_on_ny/new-york-business-groups-we-oppose-push-to-raise-state/article_5d5ca8f6-c811-11e4-b0f5-f3dfe18e6713.html" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. "We strongly urge Albany to continue the progress made in improving New York's economic competitiveness while focusing on pro-growth initiatives as budget negotiations enter this final stretch."&nbsp;Members of the coalition include The Business Council, Unshackle Upstate, The Farm Bureau of NY, and The National Federation of Independent Business.</p> <p>The groups say that the full impact of the state's last minimum wage hike on businesses is not yet apparent as the $9 wage won't go into effect until the end of the year.</p> <p>Business groups took offense earlier this month because Cuomo unveiled his "Fight for Fair Pay" <a href="https://www.ny.gov/programs/fight-fair-pay" target="_blank">campaign</a> while they held their small business lobby day at the capitol.</p> <p>"Gov. Cuomo's campaign to increase the minimum wage could push struggling small businesses over the edge," Greg Biryla, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a statement on March 3. "For employers who are trying to create new jobs and expand their business, another minimum wage increase and an added $69 million in new health care taxes would be a brutal combination. Albany needs to focus on improving the state's business climate – not make it more toxic."</p> <p>Senate Republicans have not included a minimum wage increase in their budget proposal but some members <a href="http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/golden-doesnt-slam-door-on-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">indicate</a> it is an issue they are willing to negotiate. However, they note that not only is the state's last wage wage increase not fully implemented, but that the Labor Department also <a href="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/02/8562759/state-orders-minimum-wage-increase-tipped-workers" target="_blank">just increased</a> the minimum wage for tipped workers in February.</p> <p>Kink said that Cuomo's public support of a minimum wage increase is "valuable" but also just makes political sense. "This is a tremendously popular issue for voters in both parties," Kink said. "I'd love to see increased aggression from the governor on the minimum wage. I'd like to see him throw the kind of ferocity into the faces of minimum wage opponents that he shows to the groups opposed to his education agenda."</p> <p>Cuomo's public support of a wage increase isn't exactly typical of the governor. He has been criticized by advocates in the past for not stumping on specific policies.This time Cuomo has been on the road and his office is issuing press releases in support of the increase.</p> <p>"The sweetest and healthiest success is one that enables everyone to do well together – that is what community is all about," Cuomo said announcing his "Fight For Fair Pay."</p> <p>"As our economy recovers and our businesses add new jobs, we need to ensure our entire workforce has the opportunity to be part of the economic recovery and new momentum we are seeing in all corners of the State," the governor said. "New York has always been a leader in protecting our workers and building strong communities, and this year we must continue to move forward by fighting for fair pay and raising the minimum wage statewide."</p> <p>***<br />by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette<br /><a href="https://twitter.com/DavidHowardKing" target="_blank">@DavidHowardKing</a></p>