The New York State Assembly has passed a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage from the federal level of $7.25 an hour to a more livable $8.50 an hour, but the bill is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate, with a big assist from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's refusal to champion the measure. Cuomo, of course, got loads of goodwill from progressives nationwide for his work getting marriage equality passed, but has been unwilling to exert the same kind of pressure on behalf of his state's low-wage workers.
Russell Sykes, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for New York State Policy, said raising the minimum wage would not be helpful to most poor families. The earned-income tax credit was more beneficial to them, he said, and an increase in the minimum wage could make some families ineligible for the credit.Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research points out a wee flaw in this reasoning:
If a higher minimum wage makes a low-income family ineligible for the earned income tax credit (EITC) it is due to the fact that it has raised their income above the level where they qualify for the EITC. It seems a bit strange to argue that low-income family is hurt by raising their income. (The EITC peaks at 45 percent, which means that in a worse case scenario a minimum wage worker would lose 45 cents from the EITC for every dollar increase in their wage income. Few workers would see this much of a loss.)It's like how wealthy conservatives and conservatarians threatening to "go Galt" and withhold their productivity from the rest of us if the tax rate on high incomes is raised, ignoring the fact that if they're earning enough to trigger a higher tax rate, they're still taking home more money than if they weren't earning enough to trigger that rate. But opponents of raising the minimum wage have little else to go on, since multiple studies comparing job statistics in cities and states that have increased their minimum wage above that of neighboring areas show that raising the minimum wage does not cost jobs.
That New York's Senate Republicans don't want to make work pay better for the state's vulnerable low-wage workers is to be expected. But Cuomo, who ostensibly supports raising the minimum wage, should put his weight behind doing so.