Assemblymember Bronson Votes to Raise Minimum Wage, Help Low-Income Families

Assemblymember Harry B. Bronson (D-Rochester/Chili/Henrietta) announced that legislation he supported to increase the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour beginning next year has passed the Assembly (A.38-A). The bill would also index the minimum wage to the rate of inflation beginning in 2015 – reflecting annual changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) – and set wages for food service workers who receive tips to $6.21 per hour.

“I have long fought to increase the minimum wage because many low-income families need help,” Assemblymember Bronson said. “As a small business owner, it’s clear when people have more money in their pockets the economy does better and small businesses thrive.”

More than 80 percent of New Yorkers polled in January support efforts to raise the minimum wage.i The change would directly benefit 925,000 New Yorkers currently earning below $9.00 an hour – over 10 percent of the state’s employed population.

“The increase in the minimum wage would be a great help to Greater Rochester Area families,” said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. “Many people have had to make painful sacrifices when trying to provide for their families while earning the current minimum wage. We have needed to do this for a long time and I am happy the Assembly is leading the way.”

Currently, the neighboring states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont have higher minimum wages than New York State, as do 16 other states and the District of Columbia. Ten other states have already passed legislation indexing the minimum wage to inflation. New York’s minimum wage has increased just 10 cents per hour in the last six years and was last raised when the federal minimum wage increased from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour in 2009.

From 2002 to 2012, the percent increase in CPI ranged from 1.6 percent to 3.8 percent annually. Over that time, gasoline prices rose 169 percent; education 72 percent; household energy costs 49 percent; medical care 45 percent; groceries 32 percent; and clothing 2 percent.ii

“It’s important that we index the minimum wage to the rate of inflation so we don’t find ourselves in the same position a couple years from now,” Assemblymember Bronson said. “Tying the minimum wage to inflation will solve this problem once and for all, and most importantly, take politics out of the issue and ensure that families receive fairer wages in New York.”

i. Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, January 31, 2013