Let Cities, Counties Supplement State's Minimum Wage (Commentary on Times Union by Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblyman Karim Camara)
As a nation, we've long agreed that everyone who's willing to work hard should have a shot at moving up in the world. But as families today know all too well, the middle class feels awfully elusive when you earn $8 an hour.
That's why we're supporting legislation that would allow municipalities in New York to supplement the state's minimum wage to be more in line with regional living costs. We recognize that New York is a diverse state, and a nuanced, local approach makes more sense than a one-size-fits-all policy. After all, a decent wage in Binghamton isn't necessarily the same for Buffalo or Albany County.
What doesn't change with location, though, is the absolute necessity of allowing workers to provide for their families, and to participate in — and help fuel — our economy's fragile recovery.
Low-wage workers across the country have been calling attention to this issue with growing urgency, and lawmakers are responding.
More than 30 states are considering measures to raise wages, and cities like Washington, D.C., San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., have already acted on their own. Now New York City's top officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, are seeking permission from Albany to raise wages for their workers.
ur bill would make that possible — and leaders across the state could follow their lead. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address, "To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, you don't have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on." Now it's time for us to act on that consensus, and let our cities and counties do the right thing for the men and women powering our economy.