Assemblymember Cahill: Governor’s Minimum Wage Veto Finally Struck Down

Higher minimum wage to help thousands of New Yorkers out of poverty
December 7, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) responded today to the State Senate’s override of the Governor’s veto of bipartisan legislation raising New York State’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 per hour (A.11760).

"Despite the Governor’s misguided action, the Senate followed the Assembly’s lead and did the right thing for hard-working families by overturning his minimum wage veto," Mr. Cahill said. "Today is a victory for every working New Yorker struggling from paycheck to paycheck. A higher minimum wage will give them an honest start at improving their standard of living."

After months of pressure, the Senate finally decided to join the Assembly in overriding the Governor’s veto and allowing this historic legislation to increase the state minimum wage to become law.

The Governor’s claim that raising the minimum wage will hurt New York’s ability to create jobs is simply flawed. Nine of the 12 states with a minimum wage higher than the federal level had better employment growth in 2003 than New York. In addition, those 12 states had an average unemployment rate in June of this year – lower than New York’s 6.2 percent. Between 1998 and 2001, the 12 states with a higher minimum wage also saw the number of small businesses grow by 3.1 percent – nearly twice the 1.6 percent rate for the remaining states.

The Assembly and Senate agreement calls for the wage to rise to $6.00 per hour on January 1, 2005; $6.75 per hour on January 1, 2006; and $7.15 per hour on January 1, 2007. Food service workers receiving tips would also receive yearly wage increases under the plan. The tip minimum wage would climb from $3.30 to $3.85 per hour on January 1, 2005; $4.35 on January 1, 2006; and $4.60 on January 1, 2007.

"Thankfully, the Senate decided to live up to its pledge to New York’s working men and women by joining us in the Assembly to eliminate this barrier between them and a better standard of living," the Assemblymember said. "As trusted representatives of the citizens of New York, we cannot allow the people of this state to work full-time only to collect wages that keep them in poverty. We have a moral obligation to help them. I believe that today’s override represented a big step towards fulfilling that responsibility," he concluded.

For more information on the need to increase the minimum wage, visit the Assembly’s Web site at http://assembly.state.ny.us/comm/WAM/2004MinWage/.