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Cuomo calls NYC's bid to raise minimum wage 'chaotic'

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gov cuomo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday rejected as potentially “chaotic” a proposal by Mayor Bill de Blasio to create a higher New York City minimum wage in the latest clash of the state’s top Democrats.

“This could be a chaotic situation,” Cuomo said of De Blasio’s proposal, which the mayor announced in his State of the City speech Monday. “That competition within the state, I don't believe would be productive.”

De Blasio fought back. “Just as the federal government allows states to set their own minimum wage — with surprisingly little chaos — we’d like to believe that there is a path forward here that recognizes the unique crisis working families are facing in New York,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Marti Adams.

But the chances of de Blasio forcing city employers to pay a higher minimum wage quickly worsened as the co-leaders of the State Senate, closely allied with Cuomo on pro-business issues, said they would block the idea.

“We have no plans to revisit that law,” said Scott Reif, spokesman for the Senate's Republican conference.

De Blasio also got little support from the Independent Democratic Conference faction, which shares control of the chamber with Republicans.

“We passed a minimum wage increase, a very robust one, to $9 in 2015,” said Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), leader of the conference, referring to Cuomo and the legislature last year increasing the minimum wage in stages. “Let’s move on.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) had no comment.

Cuomo and the Senate appeared to throw de Blasio for his second setback in less than two months in office after the mayor seized the mantle as New York’s progressive leader. Cuomo and Senate Republicans already had said they would block de Blasio's attempt to raise the income tax on the wealthiest city residents to pay for expanded prekindergarten.

“It’s clear the governor is not going to give New York City or its mayor the authority to effectively run a separate state,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a national political consultant to who worked in the Clinton White House.

He noted the friction is common between governors and mayors and that state politicians don’t usually cede jurisdiction or the power and political influence that comes with it.

“The mayor should hope these rejections are not reflective of what the next four years will look like,” he said.

De Blasio has pressed his progressive agenda hard, even as Cuomo proposes election year tax cuts and seeks to attract more employers to the state.

Cuomo and the Republicans also draw much of their campaign cash from business interests.

In his State of the City speech, de Blasio said, “Our middle class isn't just squeezed. It's at risk of disappearing altogether.” He presented the speech in front of a large sign with his administration’s motto: “One New York.”

A day later, Cuomo threw some of the mayor's words back at him.

“We are ... one state and we don’t want to cannibalize ourselves,” Cuomo said on public radio's “Capital Pressroom” Tuesday.

The Senate’s Democratic minority argues that New York’s working poor were hit hardest by the recession and need help more than millionaires need tax cuts.

“We recognize that New York is a diverse state, and a nuanced, local approach makes more sense than a one-size-fits-all policy,” Stewart-Cousins said Tuesday.


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