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Minimum wage game changed

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - Updated: 5:09 PM

ALBANY (AP) -- Raising New York's minimum wage appeared an almost sure thing going into this year, but now it is muddled by competing proposals and by political strategies crucial to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans.

It all means an uncertain future for the issue that touches millions of New Yorkers directly and indirectly. Lawmakers come back Tuesday after vacation.

"The governor just doesn't seem willing to bring his 'A game' to the minimum wage issue," said Mark Dunlea of the Hunger Action Network, an advocate for the poor and working poor. "With more than 80 percent of the voters supporting a minimum wage hike, this is certainly a much easier issue for the governor to push through than same-sex marriage or gun control."

President Obama has proposed a nationwide $9 minimum wage tied to inflation, and Cuomo told reporters that the federal level is "the best place to do a lot of these laws."

The state's current minimum wage matches the federal one -- $7.25 an hour. Opponents fear raising it could kill jobs for the people the measure is intended to help.

"You could argue it's less urgent for the state to do it, but I think you go down both tracks simultaneously ... on the off-chance that it doesn't get passed," Cuomo said.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island said it's a matter of fairness for employers, as well as workers.

"Since New York's minimum wage is tied to the federal minimum wage, Senator Skelos agrees with the governor that it should be set at the federal level," said Skelos spokesman Scott Reif.

     

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