By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Workers at the low end of the economic ladder deserve a raise in the minimum wage, according to a Brooklyn lawmaker who voted in favor of increasing the salary from $7.25 an hour to $9.00.
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island-Dyker Heights-Bay Ridge) said the state assembly passed a bill a year ago to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour. But following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech last week, the assembly amended its bill to match the president’s proposal.
Like the president’s proposal, the assembly’s amended minimum wage plan calls for wages to increase along with the rate of inflation.
The new version of the bill calls for the minimum wage to increase to $9.00 per hour in January of 2014. Beginning in 2015, the minimum wage will be indexed, requiring an increase each year to adjust for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The measure also sets wages for food service workers who receive tips at $6.21 per hour.
The measure is expected to be sent to the State Senate for action. But it faces an uncertain future in that chamber. Leading Republicans have stated that forcing employers to pay higher salaries will result in fewer jobs.
Brook-Krasny said it’s important to raise the minimum wage now to help struggling families. “While the national attention to this vitally important issue is encouraging, it’s essential that we don’t wait for Washington to take action. With overwhelming public support to increase the minimum wage here in New York State, we have to act now,” he said.
“For too long, families living on minimum wage salaries have been forced to make do with inadequate wages. New Yorkers are working harder than ever for pay that makes it difficult to put food on the table or keep a roof over their families’ heads,” Brook-Krasny said.
Raising the minimum wage isn’t an act of charity, Brook-Krasny said. It will help the economy, he predicted. “By increasing the minimum wage, working families will see a rise in their purchasing power and are likely to spend the money from their hard-earned paychecks at local businesses, helping strengthen our economy,” he said.
The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and 16 other states have higher minimum wages than New York State, Brook-Krasny said. The minimum wage in New York http://www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/laborstandards/workprot/minwage.shtm has increased just 10 cents per hour in the last six years, he said. “That is simply not good enough,” he said.