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Debate Over Minimum Wage Increase

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One topic of the upcoming State of the State Address that has sparked debate is Governor Andrew Cuomo's vow to push for a $15 per hour minimum wage across New York State.

The increase would be gradual, fully reaching $15 in 2018 downstate and in 2021 upstate. Citizen Action of New York is pushing for the increase, saying it is necessary and gradual enough that it gives businesses time to prepare. Business lobbying group Unshackle Upstate says it feels the increase will result in job loss, higher consumer prices and increase taxes across the board. It says the 2013 increase, which officially bumped minimum wage to $9 an hour on January 1st of this year, needs to be taken into account before adding another increase.

"I think we’d be better served by studying the economic data and seeing what this last minimum wage increase that we have just completed did to job creation numbers and economic output numbers,” said Greg Biryla, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate.

However, Mary Clark, regional director of Citizen Action of New York, says the new wage is not livable for minimum wage workers.

“To try to support a family on that, pay your rent, pay your utilities; it’s just virtually impossible, particularly if you have children. Most people earning $9 an hour are working a second job,” said Mary Clark, regional director of Citizen Action of New York.

Clark says that a vanload of people from Citizen Action will go to Albany rallying for the Fight for $15. The organization will also have a vanload of people attending for Sustainable New York.