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February 27th, 2013

Assemblyman Ortiz speaks on the need to raise the minimum wage

Felix Ortiz

The following is a statement from Assemblyman Felix Ortiz on the minimum wage:

As Chairman of the New York State Assembly/ Senate Puerto Rican/ Hispanic Task Force, I support and commend Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for joining President Barack Obama’s call for a $9.00 an hour minimum wage. Silver introduced a bill (A.38-A) to amend the Assembly’s minimum wage legislation to reflect the president’s proposal.

For many low-wage earners, despite their excellent work ethic and commitment to their jobs, they are underpaid and have little hope of getting ahead. The current minimum wage is too low, and it has been that way for far too long. The last increase occurred in 2009, from $7.15 to $7.25.

The Assembly passed a bill (A.9148) to raise the minimum wage last year, but unfortunately it was not acted on by the Senate, denying a badly needed wage boost to the many individuals and family households who are struggling economically. Speaker Silver, a champion of a higher minimum wage, reintroduced the bill this year and again made it one of the Assembly’s top legislative priorities.

A critical component of the Assembly’s legislation is indexing, so when the cost of living increases because of inflation so will the minimum wage, thereby eliminating those long stretches of time when the wage’s purchasing power no longer meets the realities of the economy.

Governor Cuomo is also focused on the difficulties facing many of the state’s working men and women and their families. In his 2013-14 SFY Budget is a proposal to raise the minimum wage.

But so far the concerns and principles that drive the Assembly and Governor’s commitment to a higher minimum wage are not supported by enough members of the Senate. The opponents there show little worry for the many individuals and families who are living on the financial edge.

It may be hard to believe for some, but it is true. It has become too difficult for many working people, who work for a living, to earn a living and this cannot continue.

I urge my constituents to write to their Senators and make it known that by any reasonable measure a zero increase in the minimum wage for the last several years is an injustice that must be corrected, this year.

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