Hawley says hiking minimum wage for state workers misguided and wrong

Staff Reports Posted 12 November 2015 at 12:00 am

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley issued this statement today about Gov. Cuomo’s announcement to raise the minimum wage for all state employees to $15 per hour. The new wage covers about 10,000 state workers, with 9,000 outside New York City, the governor said.

“Gov. Cuomo’s decision to increase the state employee minimum wage to $15 per hour is misguided and wrong for New York,” Hawley said. “The minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage and by raising it over 50 percent we are essentially killing the motivation of state employees to work hard, take advantage of their opportunities and find better paying employment. In a state where our budget is already stretched thin and we have trouble providing funding for deteriorating upstate infrastructure and paying down the Gap Elimination Adjustment education cuts, we simply can’t afford this added expenditure. Our residents already pay the highest taxes in the nation and asking them to absorb more of a burden is wrong.”

The state wage increase will follow the schedule set for pay hikes for fast food workers. That schedule for New York City includes a $10.50 minimum beginning Dec. 31, 2015; then $12 the following year; then $13.50 on Dec. 31, 2017; and then $15 on Dec. 31, 2018.

Outside New York City, the minimum for fast food workers increases to $9.75 on Dec. 31; then $10.75 on Dec. 31, 2016; $11.75 on Dec. 31, 2017; $12.75 on Dec. 31, 2018; $13.75 to Dec. 31, 2019; $14.50 to Dec. 31, 2020; and $15 on Dec. 31, 2021.

“It is autocratic and disconcerting to the democratic process for Gov. Cuomo to sidestep the Legislature and unilaterally pass this minimum wage increase,” Hawley said. “Just as the case with the increase for fast-food workers, all laws should go through an appropriate legislative process that includes vetting and discussion. Any other way is irresponsible governing. What we need is a more fertile business environment that provides better paying opportunities for state workers, not dependence on the state for higher wages.”