Advocates say NY minimum wage falls short of cost of living

Feb 25, 2013

State Senator Timothy Kennedy joined about a dozen community activists in downtown Buffalo Monday morning to call on Albany to raise the state's minimum wage.

Kennedy was joined by members of the Coalition for Economic Justice. During a brief rally outside Erie County's Rath Building on Franklin Street, Betty Martin, president of the Transportation Aides of Buffalo, said everything is going up except for paychecks.

Transportation Aides of Buffalo President Betty Martin speaking at the downtown rally.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

"[There] are people who at working for this city who are not even able to get their medicine, who can not go to the doctor, who can't even have hospital appointments because they're being told even though they're making minimum wage, they make too much money to get Medicaid [and] food stamps," Martin said.

Advocates are calling on leaders in Albany to pass a recently-amended Assembly bill, modeled after President Obama's State of the Union proposal, to raise the wage to $9 an hour and index it to inflation to keep up with rising costs.

At the current minimum of $7.25 an hour, workers earn $290 a week or less than $15,000 a year.

Senator Kennedy says he and his fellow Democrats have enough votes to pass a bill that would increase the state's minimum wage to $9 as of January 2014, but he said a vote is being blocked by the chamber's Republican leadership.