On Wednesday, January 6, Mayor DeBlasio proclaimed a $15/hr minimum wage for the public workers in New York City. The cost for such a plan is expected to be more than $200 million over the next five years. Both De Blasio and Gov. Cuomo seem intent on playing the role of wage-crusader during their respective terms — but only for some New Yorkers.
Just like DeBlasio, Gov. Cuomo announced in early January that “he would provide a $15-an-hour minimum wage to some 28,000 state university workers.” And last November, “the governor made New York the first state to set a $15 minimum wage for public employees; he also took steps to secure $15 an hour for workers at fast-food chain restaurants.” DeBlasio, too, has sought other ways to provide more generous benefits. Late in December, he announced that NYC “would begin offering six weeks of paid parental leave to 20,000 city employees.”
The problem is that these minimum wage hikes not only add to the budget woes, it also creates inequalities between the public and private sector (except for fast-food workers). How is it good for New York that a McDonald’s open next door to a pizza shop with a $5 minimum wage difference? And how can Cuomo attract more businesses to New York state with costs that are already the highest in the entire country — when he is going to make them even higher?
Here in New York City, a minimum wage hike for public workers would mean that New York City will pay more for its labor than it currently has calculated to pay, in order to produce the exact same product or services. Looked at it another way, to then keep to the operating budget, NYC will get less goods and services for the taxes it receives. This would result in a bigger budget deficit — because of having to spend more overall to maintain the current goods and services.
Minimum wage hikes no one anyone except the pockets of the public sector workers, while pushing the budget on an even more unsustainable trajectory. The rest of the taxpayers will be expect to either 1) have yet another tax increase in the near future or 2) see diminished services. Neither of these scenarios benefits New Yorkers.