Monday, July 31, 2006

Minimum Wage Matters

Gillibrand Calls for Real Minimum Wage Increase, Not More Partisan Politics

Day after Republican congressional stunt, Gillibrand again calls for real minimum wage increase

HUDSON – Upon hearing the news about the passage of the minimum wage bill, Kirsten Gillibrand, candidate for U.S. Congress in New York’s 20th District said, “I am disappointed that an election year could drive our leaders to pass a bill that is not a clear cut commitment to raise the minimum wage. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet – between the price of gas, education and healthcare – many working families are suffering. It is critical for New York State businesses that the minimum wage is increased federally because they are losing jobs to neighboring states that have not provided for working families as well as our state has.

Right now, there are 6.6 million people who would get a raise with a minimum wage increase. The tax incentive attached to this bill would give enormous tax breaks to only 7,500 of the richest American families. A real raise in the minimum wage is something we as a nation can afford, and it has been far too long in the making. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet – between the price of gas, education and healthcare – many working families are suffering.

It is critical for New York State businesses that the minimum wage is increased federally because they are losing jobs to neighboring states that have not provided for working families as well as our state has. Right now, there are 6.6 million people who would get a raise with a minimum wage increase. The tax incentive attached to this bill would give enormous tax breaks to only 7,500 of the richest American families. A real raise in the minimum wage is something we as a nation can afford, and it has been far too long in the making. Congress could have chosen to pass a minimum wage bill that was not attached to a controversial economic measure, but chose not to. Once again, John Sweeney missed an opportunity to champion a positive measure for our working families – a clean up or down vote on an increase - and once again proved that loyalty to the Bush Administration and Congressional leadership is far more important.

After almost a decade of voting against necessary increases to the minimum wage, the Republican Congress - during a secret late night session - continued the pattern of deceiving hard-working Americans by piggybacking an increase to the minimum wage with billions of dollars in tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans. HR 5970, Vote #425 was passed, but House Republicans have admitted there is little chance of this bill passing through the Senate, a clear aim of the Republicans who drafted this doomed piece of legislation.

In the past 6 weeks alone, John Sweeney has voted a half a dozen times against having a vote on increasing the minimum wage. This increase, if passed by the Senate will not take effect until 2009. As gas prices climb to record levels, Congressman Sweeney is protecting the estates of millionaire oil executives, rather than the well being of average Americans.

Kirsten Gillibrand is running to provide real leadership in Congress rather than participate in partisan games.

FACTS ON MINIMUM WAGE (7/06)

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to studying the economy:

  • Approximately 3.9 million parents with children under 18 would benefit from an increase in minimum wage.
  • Adults make up the largest share of workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase: 80% of workers whose wages would be raised by a minimum wage increase to $7.25 by 2008 are adults (age 20 or older).
  • Women are the largest group of beneficiaries from a minimum wage increase: 59% of workers who would benefit from an increase to $7.25 by 2008 are women. An estimated 14% of working women would benefit directly from that increase in the minimum wage.
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