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Debate over minimum wage

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Debate over minimum wage
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If you ask minimum wage workers if they'd like to make more money, the answer is pretty obvious. But if you ask members of the state Legislature about raising that rate, the answer isn't as clear.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- An increase to the state's minimum wage may happen this year, but what Sentate Republicans get in return is another question. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is the measure's most important supporter, but he says nothing should be linked.

"As far as I'm concerned, minimum wage is almost a moral issue. It's not a horse trade," Silver said. "I mean, small businesses will be benefitted by it because people who earn minimum wage if you give them a raise they're more likely to spend it at the small businesses in their communities."

In broad strokes, the bills to increase the minimum wage would boost it by a $1.25 to $8.50 and tie future increases to inflation. It faces opposition in the GOP-led Senate, where Majority Leader Dean Skelos continues to call it a job killer.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, "It really negative impacts young people throughout the state who are a good part of the minimum wage earning group."

The only thing is, most major issues are linked in Albany. But this time around Senate Republicans are facing pressure not to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. Instead, the conference wants major tax cuts for businesses.

Skelos said, "We're going to bring our package to the floor, but I don't see minimum wage being part of that package."

Business lobbyists, meanwhile, are targeting Republican lawmakers who haven't taken a position on the bill.

Senate Minority Leader John Sampson said, "It's not about political pressure; it's about moral pressure. It's not about doing what is politically correct; it is doing what is morally correct."

Supporters of the measure in Albany on Wednesday deployed leaders from the faith community, like Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard.

Bishop Hubbard said, "People want to work, they want to contributing members of society, but they can't make it on the wages they're being paid today."

But whether the minimum wage is increased will ultimately depend on what Governor Andrew Cuomo does. The popular governor has supported past increases before, but he has garnered support from the business community in New York for his fiscal efforts.

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