Bay Ridge

Malliotakis blasts Cuomo’s minimum wage hike

January 12, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis says Governor Cuomo shouldn’t circumvent the State Legislature. Photo courtesy of Malliotakis’s office
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour for State University of New York (SUNY) workers sets a dangerous precedent, according to Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis.

Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) charged that Cuomo’s move is stripping the state of democracy by eliminating the legislative process.

On Jan. 4, Cuomo announced that he had issued an executive order to raise the minimum wage for some 28,000 state university workers.

“With no opportunity for a debate, vote or even review of this matter, state legislators and the public are once again left in the dark with lots of questions that need to be answered if we are going to provide affordable, quality education for our SUNY and CUNY students,” Malliotakis. said. “We can have a discussion about wage increases, but to take executive action without giving legislators an opportunity for proper debate and discussion on how it will be paid for is irresponsible.”

Cuomo, who made his announcement at a rally, said raising the minimum wage is necessary because of the high cost of living in New York state.

“The minimum wage doesn’t even work numerically in this state. Minimum wage is about $18,000 a year, food costs about $9,000 a year, rent is about $11,000 a year, clothing is about $6,000 a year. The numbers don’t even add up. And forget about a decent living. Forget about having time to spend with the kids. A real weekend, a real vacation, a real place we can provide for an education. This is below a subsistence level. You can’t make it on a minimum wage job. You need two, three, four minimum wage jobs to actually make it, and that’s not what the minimum wage was all about,” the governor said. 

Cuomo contended that if the minimum wage set in 1970 were to be indexed it to inflation, it would be $15 an hour today. “That’s the fair wage for a minimum wage in the state of New York,” he said.

But Malliotakis questioned where the funding to raise the salaries of SUNY employees would come from. She expressed concern that tuition increases at SUNY are on the horizon.

“Money doesn’t grow on trees and I simply cannot support any potential cost increase for already struggling students,” she said.

The governor’s move appeared to have set off a competition with Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to Malliotakis, who said the mayor quickly tried to top Cuomo by committing to a $15 minimum wage increase for all city workers and contractors.           

Malliotakis said she has been a longtime advocate of policies to address the rising college debt of New York’s students. She has authored legislation to expand the income eligibility for the state’s tuition assistance program (TAP) and restore it for graduate students, who lost eligibility in 2010.

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