With $15 Minimum Wage We Won't Be Subsidizing McDonald's Anymore -- Gov. Cuomo

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Let’s hear it for George Gresham and 1199 – our brother in progressive politics in New York. To Mary Kay Henry, SEIU, that has organized all across the country today, 270 cities in the fight for $15, let’s give Mary Kay Henry a big round of applause.

And how about my colleagues here, my elected official colleagues who are bold enough to stand up today: Scott Stringer, the Comptroller who stood up and showed leadership, Congressman Charlie Rangel, Tish James, Senator Hoylman, all the elected officials behind me, give them a big round of applause.

And you know, my friends, this issue is very simple. This is about basic fairness and basic justice. And this is at the core of so much of this country’s problem today. This is about economic anxiety. This is the anger at the economic injustice, where the top one percent in this society have had 95 percent of the income growth, and the bottom third is going backwards. That’s not what this country is all about.

We made a decision a long time ago, that if you worked full time, you should have a decent lifestyle for you and your family. 1933 – 1933 – FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, former governor of this great state signed a minimum wage law into effect. And he said when he signed the minimum wage law, and I quote: “by living wage, I mean more than a bare subsistence level. I mean wages of a decent living.” That was 1933, and its not a decent life – living today.

And it is simple math. If you earned the minimum wage, it’s about $18,000 a year in New York. And you add up the numbers, you can’t pay for housing and food and clothing on $18,000 a year, period. And that’s what today is all about. It violates the very promise of this nation.

And I’ll tell you something else: it is a scam on the taxpayers of this country. We raised the minimum waged for fast food workers. Fast food workers work at McDonald’s, work at Burger King, and they get paid the minimum wage.

But if you get paid the minimum wage you are still in poverty in this state. So McDonald’s workers qualify for welfare and for food stamps, and the taxpayers give McDonald’s workers $6,800 in tax subsidies. So McDonald’s pays them the minimum wage, they’re still in poverty, and the taxpayers pay another $6,800 – we are subsidizing McDonald’s profits and Burger King’s profits, and we don’t want to be in the hamburger business anymore. It is the Mother of all corporate loopholes, where they won’t pay a fair and decent wage so that the taxpayers have to cover the subsidy.

My friends this has been going on a long, long time and it is not going to end on its own. Martin Luther King said, “Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle.” That is what Martin Luther King said. And you know what we do in New York when we see injustice? We stand up, we fight, we act and we lead by example. And that is what we did when we were the first state to raise the fair minimum wage of fast food workers, wages in New York. That is what we did when we proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 statewide, the highest in the United States of America.

That is what we are going to do today. We are going to lead by example and today I can announce that we are going to establish a public sector minimum wage and we are going to start in our own house and every employee of the state we will adopt this law and it will be a $15 minimum wage for all state employees. I believe you are going to see others now follow New York.

Why? Because New York is not just another state my friends. New York is the progressive capital of the nation, we fight for fairness, we fight for justice, we act first, we lead by example, we fight for racial justice, we fight for social justice, we fight for economic justice, and we will fight until this nation fulfills its promise of opportunity for all. That is what this fight for 15 is all about. We are going to lead the way, the nation is going to watch us and we are going to raise up this state and we are going to raise up this nation to a higher level than it has ever been. That is what we are going to do together.

Thank you and god bless you.

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