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Minimum wage hearings take place across New York state

401K via Flickr

The push for increasing minimum wage in New York state is taking place in hearings across the state. Central New Yorkers were able to chime in on the issue at a hearing in Syracuse today.

Millie Martinez of Syracuse needed help from an interpreter to tell of her plight at the minimum wage hearing in Syracuse today.

"The wage an hour is $7.75 and it is difficult for me to support my kids with that," her translator said.

She was one of several Central New Yorkers urging lawmakers to raise the state's minimum pay from $7.75 to $8.50 an hour. Many, like Jerry Dennis of the Service Employees Union, noted that even $8.50 isn't enough to live on in this day and age.

"The living wage in this country is about $13 an hour without health insurance, so even $8.50 is a far cry from that," Dennis said.

On the other side of the issue are people representing businesses. They say that raising the minimum wage would kill job opportunities. Ted Potrikus, of the New York State Retail Council, says their biggest concern is the bill the Assembly is considering that would cause yearly minimum wage increases in line with the Consumer Price Index.

"Seeing a permanently fixed requirement that requires that minimum wage to go up year after year is something that really does concern them; about their ability to bring on new people and to keep their current staff happy," Potrikus said.

Syracuse Assemblyman Sam Roberts looks at where the debate goes from here.

"We share the information that we gather from the public at these hearings and then we put it to the floor," Roberts said.

There is one more hearing scheduled in Buffalo on May 11.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.