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Cuomo to raise minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) listens as Gov. Andrew

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) listens as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks in support of a $15 minimum wage at a home care and healthcare workers rally in Manhattan on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. Photo Credit: AP / Mary Altaffer

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that he will unilaterally raise the minimum wage for about 10,000 state employees to $15 per hour, continuing his change of heart on the issue.

The hike will be phased in over a number of years: For about 1,000 state workers in New York City, the raise would reach $15 per hour on Dec. 31, 2018. For another 9,000 workers, the new wage would reach $15 per hour on July 1, 2021.

The hike will impact a tiny percentage of the roughly 200,000-member state workforce. Impacts on the $150 billion state budget would be minimal -- about $20 million.

But the governor said it was about a broader push to get a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers.

"I believe that if you work hard and work full time, you should not be condemned to live in poverty," Cuomo said. "Yet millions of families nationwide continue to be left behind by an insufficient minimum wage -- and it's time that changed."

He announced the proposal at a Manhattan rally.

The Democrat in February shot down a proposal to raise the statewide minimum wage to $13 per hour that was backed by Assembly Democrats and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. Now, the governor supports a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all workers.

During the summer, Cuomo's Labor Department, using the state regulatory process, gave fast-food workers a boost to $15, also phased-in over time -- which a restaurant group is trying to block.

Cuomo's move for state workers comes three weeks after Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner hiked the minimum wage to $15 for that city's workforce.

De Blasio said Tuesday that he had just heard of Cuomo's proposal but noted the lowest-paid city workers already make more than the phased-in schedule for state workers.

"Again, just like you, we just heard about the governor's plans so we'd have to look at it, but I'm proud to say our city workers right now, every single one making no less than about 12 dollars an hour and increasing according to our current plan, we'll certainly have more to say once we take a look at this new plan," de Blasio said.

With Matthew Chayes

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