Minimum wage in the news, April-May 2012

May 29, 2012. FPI’s analysis and commentary on the minimum wage issue has been highlighted in a number of recent news stories:

  • Report: 880,000 Workers In NY Would Benefit From Higher Minimum Wage – an article by Joseph Spector, Gannett News Service, May 24, 2012.
  • Wage Bill Would Benefit Bronx More than Other Counties, Report Says – an article by Patrick Wall, DNAinfo.com, May 24, 2012.
  • The minimum wage, tax cuts, and the New York legislature – an article by Jeremy Moule, Rochester City Newspaper News Blog, May 22, 2011.
  • Liberals Call for Cuomo to Champion Higher Wage – an article by John Eligon, New York Times, May 21, 2011.

    Because of the way the Cuomo administration has distributed federal social welfare dollars, “there’s much less money left over for a range of support services,” said Carolyn Boldiston, a senior analyst at the Fiscal Policy Institute.

  • Speaker Silver, Assembly Majority Announce Approval of Minimum Wage Bill; Legislation includes provision that would ensure minimum wage is adjusted for inflation annually – an article in the Saugerties Post-Star, May 16, 2012.
  • Honor Mom by raising the minimum wage – an op ed by Ana Oliveira, Albany Times-Union, May 11, 2012.

    According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, the additional money flowing into local businesses as a result of low-paid workers spending their higher wages in their local communities would create 7,500 jobs across the state.

    Women are small business owners, too, and the evidence from around the country is clear that modest minimum wage increases, as proposed, do not hurt small businesses or reduce total employment. In the years following the last increase in New York’s minimum wage, jobs kept growing in low-wage industries like retail and restaurants.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Skelos should step forward to join Silver on legislation to raise the minimum wage.

    On Mother’s Day, we salute our moms for their hard work and the sacrifices they make for us. There’s no better way to honor New York’s working moms than to raise the minimum wage.

  • The Fight for a Minimum Wage Increase in New York State – an op ed by Rubén Díaz Jr. and Jeffrey D. Klein, Huffington Post, May 4, 2012. The same piece, in Spanish, appeared in El Diario La Prensa on May 3, 2012: La lucha por el aumento del salario mínimo en Nueva York.
  • State Legislature Battles Over Minimum Wage Increase – an article by Igor Kossov, Gotham Gazette, May 2, 2012.
  • Assembly hears from the working poor: Gov. Cuomo steps into minimum wage fight – an article by Amanda Verrette, Legislative Gazette, April 30, 2012.
  • New York State Minimum Wage Must Be Raised to $8.50 – an op ed by Lou Gordon, Director, Business and Labor Coalition of New York (BALCONY), Saugerties Post-Star, April 19, 2012.

Also see editorials from the New York Times (May 1) and the Albany Times Union (April 25).

Mind the income gap: Rich-and-poor divide continues

May 27, 2012. A letter to the editor by Frank Mauro and James Parrott, Crain’s New York Business.

Greg David’s recent blog post on income inequality (“Flash: Inequality falls dramatically in NYC”) leaves out an important part of the story. Yes, incomes of the top 1% fell during the 2008-09 recession, and the top 1% share of total income declined. But since then, income polarization has clearly resumed.

Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez reported in early March that the top 1% of households nationally captured a whopping 93% of the income gains in 2010, while incomes were stagnant for the rest.

Tax data for 2011 have not yet been released, but continued high unemployment, together with soaring dividends, business income and capital gains, point to a continuation of the 2010 trend.

Advocates want Gov. Cuomo to create tax reform commission

May 25, 2012. An article by Adam Shanks, Legislative Gazette.

Advocates, headed by New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, met in the Capitol last week to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create a Tax Reform and Fairness Commission, first proposed in December 2011

The group, a mélange of tax reform organizations that call themselves the Omnibus Consortium, also pointed out problems with the way the governor laid out the commission in both his State of the State and budget addresses earlier this year. The advocates believe the governor should not insist on commission proposals being revenue neutral and should focus on local taxes in addition to state taxes.

“On three separate occasions the governor has stated that he would form a tax reform and fairness commission but we have yet to see him take any action to address the issue,” said Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.

The advocates claim excluding local taxes from any commission report would be ignoring property tax burdens on local taxpayers, a problem they say stems from the state wanting to maintain personal income tax levels, despite increasing costs.

“People pay a variety of different taxes,” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, highlighting local taxpayer burden.

John Whitely of the New York State Property Tax Reform Coalition said while New York’s state taxes are 5 percent above the national average, its local taxes are 35 percent above the national average. Ignoring local taxes, the advocates claim, would not address taxation problems in New York.

The advocates also say while the personal income tax remains progressive, local taxes in New York have become regressive. Citing the Institute on Taxation and Economic policy, proponents for the commission say when state and local taxes are combined, households earning between $33,000 and $56,000 pay a higher percentage of their income than those making between $209,000 and $633,000.

Solely focusing on state taxes, the consortium says, would be ignoring a large burden placed on lower and middle-income families.

The tax reform proponents also say to create a revenue-neutral commission would limit its functionality because variables such as job creation can impact revenue.

The Omnibus Consortium believes the commission should be comprised of economists and “affected parties,” and allow for electronic recommendations from citizens over the internet before it makes any recommendations.

Advocates urge Cuomo to carry through on tax reform commission

May 25, 2012. Tax reform advocacy groups from around the state gathered on May 22 to remind the Governor that he pledged to create a tax reform commission in his State of the State address earlier this year. News coverage:

  • “Omnibus members question Cuomo’s tax plans” – a post by Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union Capitol Confidential blog.
  • “Groups Urge Tax Reform” – a post by Joseph Spector, Albany Watch blog. Includes a video of Ron Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness talking about the tax reform commission.
  • “Advocates want Gov. Cuomo to create tax reform commission,” – an article by Adam Shank, Legislative Gazette (May 25, 2012).

For a summary of what Governor Cuomo has said about tax reform, see this January 12 column by Frank Mauro.

What is the county-by-county impact of raising New York’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour?

May 24, 2012. This new brief shows that among several of the state’s larger upstate counties, the share of workers who would benefit directly is well above the statewide average – 10.1 percent of all resident workers. In Broome County 12.6 percent of workers would benefit, in Oneida 12.5 percent, Erie County 11.4 percent, Monroe 11.1 percent and Onondaga 10.9 percent. Downstate, 352,000 New York City workers would benefit directly, as would 126,500 Long Island workers and 72,500 workers in the northern suburban counties. In all, 18 counties in New York State each have 10,000 or more workers who would benefit directly. The brief is part of the Numbers that Count series, in which FPI presents and analyzes new data on New York’s economy.

Omnibus members question Cuomo’s tax plans

May 22, 2012. An article by Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union Capitol Confidential blog. Also see: Groups Urge Tax Reform, by Joseph Spector, Albany Watch blog; includes a video of Ron Deutsch of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness talking about the proposed tax reform commission.

Fact vs. Fiction on Raising New York’s Minimum Wage

May 21, 2012. Last week, following Assembly passage of legislation to increase New York’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos argued that the minimum wage increase would harm minimum wage workers because they would pay more in taxes and some might lose eligibility for Family Health Plus. In this brief, The Fiscal Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project review the facts and show that, on an after tax basis, all minimum wage workers would be considerably better off following a minimum wage increase. And, Family Health Plus eligibility is not affected for the overwhelming majority of low-wage New Yorkers.

Helping the Helpers Will Help Us All: The Economic Situation of New York City’s Health Care and Social Assistance Sector

May 7, 2012. A new report from FPI looks at the importance of jobs in the nonprofit health care and social assistance sector in New York City, and examines how the hardships facing the city’s low-income population – the main constituency served by the nonprofit human services sector – have grown in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and the weak recovery over the past three years.

Also see a news story on Helping the Helpers reported by Ailsa Chang of WNYC – As City Faces Cuts, Study Finds Non-Profit Sector Is Largest Private Employer.

Chuck Collins, Madeleine Kunin

May 3, 2012. Frank Mauro interviewed Chuck Collins, an expert on wealth and income inequality in the U.S. and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Madeleine Kunin, who served as Governor of Vermont 1985-1991 and as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland 1996-1999.

Editorials: Raise the minimum wage

May 1, 2012. Today the New York Times mentioned FPI in their editorial in favor of increasing the minimim wage. The Albany Times-Union did the same last week.

An excerpt from the Times Union:

Here’s how a higher minimum wage creates jobs, as economist James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute explained to the Assembly Labor Committee on Monday:

Industries that pay such low wages tend to serve small markets, often no bigger than a neighborhood. It’s not as if there’s competition for these services in other states. Nor are retailers or people in the restaurant business about to relocate to where wages are lower.

Instead, when the minimum wage inches higher, productivity tends to increase, the research suggests. Prices might go up slightly, but more typically businesses cover those costs by retaining workers longer, thus spending less to train replacements.