Should NY lawmakers raise minimum wage?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More lawmakers have joined the push to increase the minimum wage, but not everyone is on board with this proposal.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2013 budget includes raising minimum wage, from the current $7.25 to $8.75 per hour. President Obama has set the bar even higher, with a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour.

RELATED | How does New York compare to other states? Check out this interactive map here

Supporters argue, the change is long overdue.

State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "Today, an individual who makes the minimum wage and works 40 hours a week makes only $290 a week, before taxes. That's not enough money for anybody to live. And quite frankly, a family of three, living on the minimum wage, is below the federal poverty line."

Even if the federal minimum wage went up to $9, a family of four with one worker would still fall almost $5,000 short of the federal poverty line of $23,550.

Opponents fear a minimum wage hike could cripple business owners.

The Business Council of New York State says employers will be forced to either cut jobs, reduce workers' hours, or pass the increased costs on to their customers, by raising prices. Marco's Italian Deli Owner Joe Carriero isn't totally against it; he already starts his employees around $8 an hour.

"It's really a negligible amount. If they go with the federal one, [up to] $10 an hour, then yeah. I will have to cut personnel for that one. That's just a little more than the business can afford to pay," Carriero.

According to a January 2013 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a person working full-time would earn around $3,000 more a year, if New York's minimum wage goes to $8.75.

READ | The full report from the Fiscal Policy Institute here

"At the same time, the research shows that there has not been any negative impact on job growth in other areas of the country where the minimum wage has increased," Sen. Kennedy said.

The Business Council, however, disagrees. Raising minimum wage will reduce job opportunities, it argues, especially entry-level jobs.

Carriero said, "What it will do is change how I hire. I will now no longer be hiring people that don't have experience. Just because I'm going to have to get my money's worth out of them, faster."

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 19 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages higher than New York's. The highest is Washington at $9.19 per hour.

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New York (change)

Democrat Andrew Cuomo is Governor of New York.  Two Democrats represent NYS in the U.S. Senate, and NY has 29 representatives in the U.S. House: 21 Democrats and 8 Republicans.
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