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Hotbutton Issue: The Minimum Wage

While New York is posturing to join 19 other states that have raised their minimum wages above the current federal level of $7.25 per hour, lawmakers in Washington are trying to promote passage of legislation that would hike the federal minimum wage to new heights.

Labor, community, religious and policy groups from around New York welcomed a reported agreement to increase the state minimum wage to $9 per hour over the next three years. Not everyone embraces its tenets.

Republican Assemblyman Brian Kolb says the minimum wage shouldn't be discussed as part of budget deliberations. Freshman Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents the Hudson Valley, believes the minimum wage will benefit farmers. Steve Ammerman, public affairs manager for the New York Farm Bureau, disagrees: he says a hike in the minimum wage will just add to the daily burden farmers face.
The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that increasing New York’s minimum wage to $9 per hour will generate more than $1.1 billion in new economic activity, supporting the creation of more than 10-thousand new full-time jobs as businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, today announced a new effort to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 under legislation she's pushing known as the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013.  Hunger Action Network of New York State Executive Director Mark Dunlea says New Yorkers need a higher minimum wage than what state lawmakers have agreed to. President Obama mentioned $9 an hour as a minimum wage goal in his State of the union Address. Gillibrand explains why her bill sets the bar higher. She says the legislation could possibly be tied to a jobs bill in the amendment process. She adds that increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could increase America’s GDP by approximately $33 billion over the course of three years.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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