Politics

Former Cuomo Challenger Distrusts Minimum Wage Sincerity

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New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was bashed by a former election challenger Monday who claimed Cuomo’s $15 minimum wage support is insincere.

Republican Westchester County executive Rob Astorino fought to unseat Cuomo in 2014 but lost the election. Astorino told reporters at an annual state conservative party conference that Cuomo has been disingenuous in his support for a number of policies, including the $15 minimum wage. The New York Republican also said at the conference he is currently considering another gubernatorial run.

“People realize now that all the messaging that Cuomo had was the Wizard of Oz,” Astorino said according to Capital New York. “It was a smokescreen.”

Astorino argues the governor changes his stance on a whim to get support. Cuomo introduced a bill Sept. 10 aimed at gradually bringing the state minimum wage to $15 by 2021, only after the policy had picked up substantial national support. Astorino notes the figure is just a made-up number based merely on polling data and not real economic analysis.

“Nobody is, I think, afraid of the governor anymore, quite frankly, and his policies are making it worse,” Astorino continued. “One day he said he’s a conservative, then he’s a moderate, now he’s a liberal.”

Union organizer Kendall Fells confirmed in 2014 that the $15 figure was indeed made up arbitrarily. He was caught on video during a union panel meeting discussing how they agreed on the figure based on what would be politically expedient. Unions have played a major role throughout the $15 minimum wage movement, including support for Fight for $15 and other advocacy groups.

“When you don’t have a core principle nobody knows where you’re going to stand when the wind blows strong,” Astorino concluded. “He’s basically abandoned all his principles for expediency, and I think every group is starting to realize that.”

Of state residents, 62 percent support the increase, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. Supporters say the policy will help the poor by allowing them to more easily afford basic necessities, which could stimulate economic activity. Critics, however, assert that many businesses don’t have the profits to handle the added cost of labor.

A minimum wage as high as $15 an hour could force low-profit businesses to increase prices or limit their workforce. In some cases, the businesses may have to close. Cuomo countered the claim by noting a higher minimum wage will alleviate the tax burden caused by welfare.

Cuomo has also proposed and implemented a number of tax cuts to help relieve costs for small businesses in the state. His office estimated the cuts will save small businesses nearly $1.2 billion by 2021. Republican State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan told reporters Monday he doesn’t believe the tax cuts will be enough to offset the higher cost of labor, reports NY State of Politics.

The New York State Association of School Business Officials warned Oct. 30 that the proposal could cost state school districts $276 million. The New York Farm Bureau stated Dec. 21 it would put severe stress on farmers and cause higher food prices.

Cuomo has already done a lot to advance the policy in the state. He unilaterally raised wages for those working in the fast-food industry, state university workers and state employees. Additionally, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Jan. 6 a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all city workers.

Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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