ALBANY, N.Y. — The implementation of the $9-an-hour minimum-wage increase and move to tie future increases to inflation has been introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D., N.Y.) and Assembly Labor Committee Chair Carl Heastie (D., WF-Bronx). The legislation would require the increase to take effect on Dec. 31, a full year ahead of schedule. 

A second bill would repeal reimbursement tax credits to low-wage employers who pay minimum wage to students ages 16 to 19. The credit incentivizes businesses to substitute adequately paid older individuals and nonstudents with students earning the legal minimum wage.

“Introducing this legislation to accelerate the three-stage minimum-wage increase underscores the fact that right now, there are thousands of hardworking men and women that are still forced to choose between putting food on the table for their families and paying their bills each month. These are the people — the families with children to feed, houses to maintain and doctor’s expenses to pay for — that simply cannot wait two more years for a decent raise,” Silver said. “It is unreasonable to condemn these families to a life of poverty in order to appease large-scale businesses that are exploiting the working poor to maximize profits.”

“We refuse to sit by as thousands of New Yorkers work day-in and day-out on minimum wage and struggle to support their families,” said Heastie. “With this legislation, the Assembly majority is taking significant strides toward giving these hardworking men and women a better shot at a more fair and honest minimum wage in one year, rather than in two.”

Mark Hansen, spokesman for Republican Conference Leader Sen. Dean Skelos, said, “There is three-way agreement to phase in a minimum-wage increase. At this time, we have no intentions of revisiting this issue.” 

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said, “The Assembly Speaker’s position ignores existing state law that ties New York’s minimum wage to the federal standard, and disregards legislation passed less than a year ago.

“Accelerating the minimum-wage increase hurts job creation and stifles business growth. Speeding up the rate hike will result in fewer entry-level jobs in the marketplace at a time when we desperately need more employment opportunities and an improved business environment,” continued Kolb.

“New York’s minimum wage increased on Jan. 1. Only in Albany will someone ask for a second raise before they’ve even gotten the first,” concluded Kolb.

Paul Sonn, General Counsel at the National Employment Law Project, said, “With Congress and other major states calling for minimum wage of $10 or more, there is no reason to wait until 2016 to raise New York’s wage to $9.”

Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said, “Last year’s action was a good first step, but clearly much more is needed as too many New Yorkers work harder and harder, but fall further and further behind. Accelerating the phase-in and providing for indexation address both the immediate and long-term needs for a strong minimum wage. In addition, correcting inequalities in the law that negatively impact tipped workers and incentivize the suppression of wages restores fairness.”

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said, “The acceleration of the minimum-wage increase with indexing to inflation will provide a much-needed boost to struggling working families and help strengthen our state’s economy. Assembly Speaker Silver and Assemblyman Heastie also deserve credit and praise for dropping a tax credit that created a disincentive for hiring and retaining workers aged 20 or older. Working families and the state’s economy will be fundamentally better off because of this vital legislative package. I urge Governor Cuomo and both houses of the State Legislature to support this legislation.”

Ted Potrikus, executive vice president for the Retail Council of New York State, said he had no comment as he had not yet seen the bill nor spoken with his members.