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WAMC New York News
Tue March 22, 2011
"Living Wage" Appears in NY Budget Amendments
By Dave Lucas
Albany, NY – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pursuing a number of legislative priorities in the days before the April 1 budget deadline: among them, a "Living Wage" clause... Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports
The "Living Wage" clause appears in one of the Governor's 30-day budget amendments***. If passed, the Medicaid reform proposal would guarantee that salaries for low-wage home health care workers would rise to what's called the "local living wage." The proposal, hyped by the Medicaid reform panel as "home care worker parity," is designed to stabilize the work force. The proposal alarms state Home Care Association head Joanne Cunningham, who labels it "an unprecedented state form of wage control in the non-public sector" - Cunningham says initially the measure would affect communities that already have a living wage standard in place. Some critics argue that it would force many home care agencies into bankruptcy.
The Medicaid reform proposal is regarded as a victory for the 1199 Service Employees International Union. The policy changes it would bring are expected to result in an increase in the number of home health care workers represented by the union. The Home Care Association represents mostly non-profit home care organizations.
Calls to Governor Cuomo's office for comment were not returned.
***These amendments were issued within 30 days of release of the Executive Budget as required by law. The 2011-12 fiscal year begins April 1.