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De Blasio urges businesses to raise wage minimum to $13 an hour

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the Association for Better New York breakfast at the the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan, Thursday, March 5, 2015. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio Thursday urged the city's private businesses to pay their workers at least $13 an hour -- almost 50 percent more than the state minimum wage.

Speaking at a business leaders' breakfast at a luxury hotel overlooking Central Park, de Blasio said employers shouldn't wait for governments to raise the minimum wage.

"I want to call on you -- the business leaders gathered in this room -- to do your part," he said. "I need you, we all need you, to take responsibility for providing the great people of this city the opportunities, the better wages, the chances for advancement, that they need and that they deserve."

De Blasio spoke for nearly an hour to the business group Association for a Better New York, touting his administration's efforts to help poor people: more affordable housing, funding public colleges, providing universal prekindergarten classes to all city 4-year-olds.

He wants Albany to approve a minimum-wage increase in the city to $13 an hour in 2016 from the current $8.75, with increases pegged to rising cost of living.

The governor, who proposed a city wage hike only to $11.50, called de Blasio's minimum-wage proposal a "nonstarter."

De Blasio also said he wants to spend $150 million over 12 years to improve the Hunts Point wholesale food market in the Bronx.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you really want our food supply to be protected and fortified," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said city would seek to dedicate space to food that is grown and produced on upstate farms.

"We believe that the Hunts Point of tomorrow recognizes the yearning that so many people feel: to have their food grown locally," he said.

Supermarket magnate and former Republican primary mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis said of the speech: "The only part that a lot of the business people objected to was the $13. I think that it's a bit of a stretch from 8 bucks, or whatever that number is today, to $13."

He added: "Prices go up. Consumer says, 'How come you charge so much for milk?' . . . Somebody has to pay."

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