In this year’s agreed upon state budget, Hannah Buckler got her wish and even more, as the state legislature agreed to raise the minimum wage. It will take three years, but eventually the minimum wage will rise to $9 an hour. Not only did the New City resident meet with local officials to discuss raising minimum wage, but she also blogged for Patch about why it’s important as well.
Buckler reacted enthusiastically to the news.
"I think it is great that state officials are realizing the importance of the necessity for a higher minimum wage," said Buckler. "People who work full time should be able to pay for basic necessities such as food, rent, and electricity. The increase in the minimum wage over the next three years will benefit many hard-working people in New York State."
As part of her effort, Buckler, 12, last year rallied the support of State Senator David Carlucci, Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, and Rockland County Working Families Party Chairman Bob Milone for raising New York’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour. At that time, they spoke about the importance of increasing the minimum wage.
“The minimum wage is something that hasn’t increased by more than a dime in the last five years,” Carlucci said. “Right now, at $7.25 an hour, we have the same minimum wage right here in Rockland and the Hudson Valley that wage-earners are earning in Oklahoma and West Virginia, where the cost of living is dramatically less expensive.”
Carlucci added that at the current minimum wage, those working 40 hours a week are making $290, and those who work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks without taking an hour off make $15,080 before taxes.
“That’s frankly unacceptable because as everybody knows, in New York State and especially here in Rockland County, the cost of living is so high,” Zebrowski said. “We need to afford working families here in New York the ability to raise their families, the abilities to pay rent, the abilities to put food on the table and afford prescription drugs and healthcare.”
He added that 18 other states have higher minimum wages than New York.
Buckler took on advocacy for a higher minimum wage as part of her Girl Scout Silver Award Project. Buckler started her project by looking into volunteering at soup kitchens, which she’s done multiple times already and will continue doing.That led her and her parents to look into what causes people to need soup kitchens. One big reason is poverty, which led them to evaluate the state’s minimum wage.
“Many New Yorkers support an increase in the New York State minimum wage, but some feel it would cause job loss and problems for small businesses,” Buckler said. “However, an increase in minimum wage could actually lead to a boost in our economy because people living on minimum wage would have more to spend.”
Buckler was also invited to Albany last year to speak on the issue by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who proposed the bill.
Milone talked about the need to raise minimum wage not just to help out workers, but to help New York return to its place as a leader in the nation.
“We in New York need to do better. There was a time when New York was a leader when it came to workers’ rights and protections. We are now the followers. It is time for New York to lead again,” he said. “It’s time for New York to raise the wage for the working poor of New York. We’ll be raising the wage of many workers in the service industries that work at department stores, restaurants and also take care of our elderly.”