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Millionaires Support Statewide $15 Minimum Wage

Giving workers a raise can help businesses too. (Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons)
Giving workers a raise can help businesses too. (Fibonacci Blue/Wikimedia Commons)
January 6, 2016

NEW YORK - Gov. Andrew Cuomo's drive to make New York the first state in the nation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for state employees is getting support from an unexpected segment of the population: millionaires.

Whenever a hike in the minimum wage is proposed, the opposing voices most often cited are business interests. But Morris Pearl, who chairs a group called Patriotic Millionaires, said raising wages for those at the bottom of the pay scale benefits those at the top, too.

"Giving all these people a raise, as Gov. Cuomo is trying to do, will really help our businesses," he said. "Giving customers raises is the one thing that'll do the most to help business people here in New York and in other places make more money."

Cuomo on Monday announced that the State University of New York will raise the minimum wage for its workers to $15, benefiting some 28,000 employees.

The gap between rich and poor in the United States is now larger that at any time since just before the Great Depression. Pearl said the economic policies that have helped the rich get richer aren't working for the small businesses that used to be the mainstay of Main Streets all over the country.

"The middle class that supported American society through the '50s and '60s and '70s, those businesses have done poorly because of this huge divide," Pearl said.

Patriotic Millionaires was founded in 2010 to try to convince President Obama to let tax cuts that benefit wealthy individuals expire. Most of the group's members are based in New York and California, but Pearl said he believes this is an issue that needs to be pursued across the country.

"I think that's a direction we're trying to go is get other states to raise the minimum wage where the Congress of the United States, federal government has not been able to," he said.

Patriotic Millionaires has pledged to help Cuomo make the statewide $15 minimum wage a reality.

More information is online at patrioticmillionaires.org.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY