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Assembly moves to create higher Long Island, Westchester minimum wage above state rate

ALBANY - ALBANY _ The Assembly on Monday proposed for the first time to create a higher minimum wage for Long Island and Westchester County, in addition to a higher wage for New York City.

The Assembly’s Democratic majority proposed to increase the minimum wage in the suburbs and the city to $12.50 an hour by Dec. 31, then up to $15 an hour in Dec. 31, 2018. The Assembly would also index the wage so it would rise with inflation beginning in 2019.

Tipped workers such as wait staff would also see a higher suburban minimum and city wage under the Assembly proposal.

          The current statewide minimum wage is $8.75 and is scheduled to rise to $9 in December. The Assembly proposal would also raise the general minimum wage outside New York City and its suburbs to $10.50 in December, then $12.60 on Dec. 31, 2018.

Cuomo has already proposed raising the state minimum wage to $10.50 by the end of the 2016, creating the nation’s highest minimum wage. He would also set a separate minimum wage for New York City for the first time. That would be $11.50 an hour beginning Dec. 31, 2016.

“Raising the minimum wage is about the moral obligation we have to help families across the state who are struggling to get by,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx). “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.

“It is unconscionable to leave these workers trapped in an endless financial balancing act with their ability to care for themselves and their loved ones at the mercy of factors beyond their control,” Heastie said.

Under the Assembly proposal, tipped workers on Long Island, in Westchester and in New York City would see a $9.50 minimum wage in December, which would rise to $11.40 an hour on Dec. 31, 2018.

Last month, the state agreed to raise the minimum wage for 400,000 tipped workers in hotels and restaurants to $7.50 an hour beginning in December. The $5-an-hour wage for tipped workers had been unchanged since 2011.

The Assembly proposal is part of its one-house budget, released Monday. The Senate counterpart is expected to be released as early as Tuesday. The one-house budgets then become part of negotiations for a budget due by April 1.

With the proposal, the new speaker negotiating his first one-upped Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Cuomo said the working poor aren’t sharing enough in the economic recovery and that New York City’s high cost of living warrants a higher city wage.

The Senate’s Republican majority has opposed raising the minimum wage, calling it a threat to jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Cuomo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.


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