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The Empire

Sharp Divisions Remain in Albany Over Minimum Wage

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Albany remains sharply divided on a bill that would raise the minimum wage – a day after Governor Andrew Cuomo, who backs the measure, said he “wouldn’t bet” on a resolution any time soon.

For weeks there has been a stalemate with Assembly Democrats supporting the bill and Senate Republicans in opposition.

This time last year, Cuomo was championing a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. The governor said the issue of raising the minimum wage has been more difficult to advance than gay marriage.

“I believe it’s a political, philosophical divide,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “Marriage, in some ways was more of a personal judgment for people, on their personal values.”

And Cuomo says he doesn’t believe that the two houses will be able to “bridge that gap” in the remaining time left in the legislative session which is scheduled to end on June 21.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday that the minimum wage needs to be increased form the current $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.

 “It’s an engine for economic growth,” he said. “It puts money into the pockets of people who will go out and spend it.”

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has said raising the minimum wage would be a “job killer.” 

Cuomo and Skelos pride themselves on their ability to get along in a bi partisan manner, and the GOP faces a battle to retain control over the Senate in the fall elections.

 Senate Democrats, who need to win at least two seats to take the chamber away from Republicans, have also been pushing for the minimum wage increase.

The Assembly has already passed the bill.

But Silver, speaking after another event at the Capitol, said despite Cuomo’s doubts about the fate of the minimum wage measure, it’s too early to determine the bill’s fate.

 “He’s a great governor,” said Silver “I’m not sure he’s a great  prognosticator.”