And here it comes. Cuomo’s got the excuse he wanted not to have to raise the minimum wage after all: Obama’s call for a federal minimum wage hike of $9/hour and indexed to inflation.
We all saw it coming—as Blake Zeff wrote, Cuomo has a history of pushing progressive social issues like marriage equality, that don’t “upend the economic status quo.” Thus his recent loud push for the Reproductive Health Act, as featured in the New York Times this weekend and as I reported on in-depth for RH Reality Check, fits perfectly into this framework.
Raising the wage, of course, does not.
If he can drop the minimum wage hike from his budget proposal, he’ll please his big-money donors and he can claim that because Obama’s plan is better than the one he was proposing ($9 an hour plus inflation as opposed to $8.75) he’s actually still progressive.
Never mind that getting a $9 an hour indexed minimum wage through this Congress is about as likely as a Tupac/Biggie Smalls joint tour.
There’s absolutely no reason for Cuomo not to push a minimum wage hike in New York; it’s the most expensive state in the country and it’s full of low-wage workers who would see a real material benefit in their lives from even a dollar an hour more.
The Times-Union also points out, “State law gives the governor a strong hand in negotiations by limiting changes legislators can make to budget bills; if Cuomo left language in, he could essentially dare legislators to pass it into law along with the rest of the budget or shut down state government if they refuse.”
So this is in Cuomo’s hands once again. A group of state legislators is calling for the state to embrace Obama’s proposal and make it law here first, where the cost of living is much higher than most other states. The governor could make this state a leader not just on marriage or abortion rights, but on economic justice too.
We’ll see if he wants to. I’m betting the answer is no.