Newsday: NYS Legislature Considering Compromise on $15 Minimum Wage

NYAPRS Note: According to a high-ranking member of the NYS Assembly’s Democratic majority, the Senate and Assembly are considering a slower rollout of the Governor Cuomo’s $15 per hour minimum wage hike. The compromise would also create a minimum wage less than $15 in upstate NY.

Although Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie would not comment on the compromise, he expressed encouragement at the conversations the legislature has been having around this subject.

NYAPRS is following this issue closely – stay tuned for more information as it becomes available…

Staggered Rates, Slower Rollout Considered For $15/Hr Wage Proposal

By Michael Gormley and Yancey Roy Newsday March 23, 2016

The Senate’s Republican majority and the Assembly’s Democratic majority are considering a slower rollout of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to establish a $15 per hour minimum wage, sources said.

The compromise could include implementing the higher wage later on Long Island and in the northern suburbs than the 5½ years proposed by Cuomo and to phase it in as long as nine years upstate. The compromise proposal also would create a minimum wage less than $15 upstate, sources said Wednesday.

A high-ranking member of the Assembly’s Democratic majority said the Assembly is considering the compromise.

“It’s in the Senate’s hands now,” said the Assembly member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of closed-door talks. He said the Assembly is ready to accept any “reasonable” offer from the Senate to seal a budget by the April 1 deadline.

Cuomo has made a top priority of raising the $9 minimum wage to $15 statewide.

“I don’t think there is a budget agreement without minimum wage,” the member said.

Assembly Democrats had heard and rejected a nine-year phase-in time for the higher wage a week ago, but it could be reconsidered if it is part of a solid offer by Senate Republicans, the Assembly member said.

The member also said the Democratic majority conference could be open to allowing for an increase in the minimum wage to less than $15 in some or all upstate counties, although there is no agreement on that.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) wouldn’t comment on whether his conference is considering a lower minimum wage in some counties or a nine-year phase-in.

“Because we’re still discussing these things I don’t want to give a ‘where we are’ because these things are still fluid,” Heastie said. “But I’m very encouraged by the conversations we have been having.”

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said negotiations have included talk of allowing a break for Long Island employers and he is “sensitive” to the concern.

“Any exception or exemption for upstate businesses and farms needs to apply to Long Island businesses and farms, too,” said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association. “Long Island should not be lumped in with New York City. It would be detrimental to our businesses.”

Flanagan said talks are also considering exempting small businesses from being required to provide paid family leave, “but nothing has been agreed to.”

“We’re trying to get past the issue of what to do with minimum wage and I think other things will fall into place,” Heastie said. “I think the conversations are very positive.”