NYS Assembly Approves Raising Minimum Wage

March 6, 2013 Updated Mar 6, 2013 at 12:47 AM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

...
March 6, 2013 Updated Mar 6, 2013 at 12:47 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Hundreds of thousands of workers could soon get a raise, courtesy of New York State.

On a record-breaking day for the Down Jones Industrial Average, the New York State Assembly has passed a bill that would increase minimum wage -- but it's causing controversy here in Western New York.

It is not a done deal yet, because the Senate still needs to vote on the issue. However, Tuesday afternoon, the Assembly voted to increase the minimum wage in New York from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour.

It's been a heated issue, with protests here in Western New York and at the State Capitol.

Local businesses say the issue has two sides.

Jeff Krampen, a manager at Berrafato's Prima Pizza Pasta, says "We're very fortunate to have such hard working workers, and they certainly can use the extra couple of dollars."

On the other hand, inflation and a minimum wage increase could hurt businesses.

"If food costs are continue to go up," Krampen says, "you have to ask some questions on what you're going to do next."

Across Western New York, people say $7.25 an hour just is not living wage anymore.

Bob Colligan says "I really think it's in fairness to this region and across the country, we really need to pay people a higher wage." He thinks it is even more important for single-parent families.

However, others worry -- is $9.00 an hour too much?

"The prices of places where people are getting paid minimum wage, the customers would have to pay more," says Nathaniel Hewles. "In order to get money you have to spend money."

Politicians are weighing in too.

New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) says right now, "With such a low minimum wage, many families have to turn to food stamps and other types of government support that actually end up costing the state more in the long-run."

However, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) believes "The agricultural industry will be particularly devastated by this measure, which will wreak havoc on our local economy."

The Senate could take up the issue on Wednesday. There is expected to be more partisan gridlock in the State Senate.

If the legislation passes the Senate, Governor Cuomo, who has been pushing for a minimum wage increase, is expected to sign off on it.