For the first time, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seeks to set a higher minimum wage for New York City than for the rest of the state. That alters the discussion for neighboring Long Island.
Progressives and legislative Democrats argue it would make more sense for the rate in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester to rise in tandem with the city's -- and to levels higher than Cuomo seeks. As the debate continues, with more rallies set in Albany for Monday, these activists base their claims on a higher cost-of-living in those suburban counties than in the five boroughs.
As evidence, Dan Altschuler of the Make The Road NY advocacy group cites widely viewed data posted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The school's latest figures put what would be considered a "living wage" needed for a family of four in the city at $22.50 -- with the same rate at $24.05 in both Long Island counties and $24.26 in Westchester.
Minimum-wage politics around the nation have changed in different ways. The cities of Santa Fe, Seattle, Chicago and San Jose all have their own, higher rates. Meanwhile potential GOP presidential contenders Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush sound bent, if elected, on killing the federal minimum wage, which sets a floor for the states.
In Albany, State Senate Republicans, who note that a hike from $8.75 to $9 an hour is already due at year's end, oppose a further increase now. With that position, they are allied with some (though not all) business and farm groups that call Cuomo's measure harmful to their enterprises.
FOR 'FAST TRACK': Much has yet to play out over a prospective Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. But so far, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is among 26 House members who signed a March 6 letter to President Barack Obama supporting "swift action" on legislation allowing a fast track toward a pact. Under fast-track terms, Congress decides on a negotiated deal in a no-amendment, up-or-down vote. The letter says lawmakers would need to be "closely consulted" during talks.
This puts freshman Zeldin on an early potential collision course with organized labor. Union activists oppose fast-track and condemn agreements such as NAFTA as corporate deals that export U.S. jobs. Zeldin said March 10: "If Trade Promotion Authority (fast-track) legislation is introduced, then my vote will be determined based on the actual substance . . . I will not support or oppose trade legislation that hasn't yet been introduced."