Assemblymember Kevin Cahill: Raise Minimum Wage to $7.10 an Hour

February 18, 2004

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess County) announced today Assembly introduction of a bill he supports to raise New York State’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.10 an hour (A.9710).

"Our state’s antiquated minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is a slap in the face to hard-working New Yorkers," Mr. Cahill said. "A full-time minimum wage worker earns only $10,712 — $4,098 less than the official federal poverty level. A higher minimum wage is needed to help families make ends meet."

The legislation would increase the state minimum wage to $6.00 per hour on October 1, 2004; $6.75 an hour on July 1, 2005; and $7.10 on January 1, 2006. Currently, food service workers receiving tips have a minimum wage of $3.30 per hour. That would rise to $3.90 an hour on October 1, 2004; $4.40 per hour on July 5, 2005; and $4.65 an hour on January 1, 2006.

Other provisions of the bill allow an employee advocate to bring a wage and hour complaint and establish the state Labor commissioner’s access to wage and hour records in investigating alleged violations.

"The gap between the richest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent of families with children is wider in New York State than any other state," Assemblymember Cahill said. "Increasing the minimum wage will not only help working families get ahead, it will also help spur the economy since those families will have more money to spend."

Mr. Cahill pointed out that neighboring states like Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island have higher minimum wages than New York, where the rate hasn’t changed since March of 2000.

"This legislation will reward the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who work hard to put food on their families’ tables," Assemblymember Cahill said.

The minimum wage bill is part of the Assembly’s continuing efforts to help make New York more affordable for working families. During last year’s budget battle, the Assembly restored millions of dollars in funding to education – which keeps property taxes down – and health care, keeping working families healthy.