Brigid Bergin is the City Hall reporter for WNYC. She covers city politics including the 2013 mayoral race and transition.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the New York State Catholic Conference called on lawmakers in Albany on Thursday to pass, “a modest increase” in the state’s minimum wage, currently set at $7.25.
In a politely worded letter, the state’s Catholic Bishops said church members who work on the front lines with New York’s working poor find that many are unable to make ends meet, and are “on the brink of homelessness.”
“We don’t pretend to be economists, but we are pastors,” they wrote, adding that they oversee the largest nongovernmental network of health, education, and charitable ministries in the state.
A full-time, minimum wage earner brings in $15,080 a year. The Catholic Conference noted that amount is $4,010 below the 2012 federal poverty guidelines for a family of three.
Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the state Legislature that would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo noted there are “philosophical differences” between Democrats who want the increase, and Republicans who oppose it. The bill has stalled, but Cuomo insists both sides are “still talking.”
“I wouldn’t handicap it at this point,” Cuomo said. “But I wouldn’t be exceptionally optimistic.”
The governor said he’s “usually” supported a minimum wage increase.
When asked further about the legislation’s chances for passage, the governor gave a one word answer.
“Dubious,” Cuomo said.
Meanwhile Assembly Minority GOP Leader Brian Kolb wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Post, calling the bill a “job killing “mandate.