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New York's minimum wage would be tied to inflation under Hochul's proposal

Governor Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol.
Darren McGee
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Governor Kathy Hochul delivers her 2023 State of the State address in the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol.

A proposal to raise the minimum wage in New York state and tie future increases to inflation has gained the favor of Governor Kathy Hochul, who included the idea Tuesday in her annual State of the State address.

It’s a proposal that’s already been floated by Democrats in the state Legislature, but one that Hochul hadn’t publicly endorsed before Tuesday’s address.

The plan was light on details, but Hochul said it would include “flexibility” on future minimum wage increases in the event of an economic downturn.

“I am proposing a plan to peg the minimum wage to inflation,” Hochul said. “Like other states that have implemented this policy, we will put guardrails in place to make increases predictable for employers, and create flexibility in the event of a recession.”

The proposal received applause and a standing ovation from many Democrats, including Senate Labor Chair Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, who’s already introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation.

It even received praise from New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who challenged Hochul in the primary race for governor last year. Williams said it's an idea he’s supported for years now.

“We’ve fought to raise the minimum wage for over a decade, and both increasing and indexing it to inflation are crucial, as is using the reach and resources of state government to provide relief, security and economic opportunity,” Williams said.

The Alliance for a Greater New York, a labor advocacy group, also offered support for the proposal, saying workers who earn the current minimum wage are already at their breaking point.

“Governor Hochul listened to workers by proposing an index to the minimum wage — a great step forward for working families struggling to make ends meet,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, the group’s executive director. “Yet 2.9 million underpaid workers can’t wait for a living wage; increasing the minimum wage must be an immediate act.”

The proposal, which has already been adopted by at least 13 other states, was part of Hochul’s agenda for addressing the rising cost of living in New York, but opponents said her speech didn’t quite hit the mark in that area.

Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay, R-Oswego, said he didn’t see a clear path in Hochul’s address to make progress on the issue.

“Many of the governor’s proposals fail to strike at the heart of our worst economic realities, and it does not appear she has any interest in curbing the out-of-control spending we have seen in recent decades under Democrat leadership,” Barclay said.

Details on Hochul’s proposal will likely land in Hochul’s executive budget proposal, which is expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.