WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed, during a conference call Friday, blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to increase state inmate’s minimum wage to $3 an hour, saying it is radical, unfair to taxpayers and local governments and will cost the state as much as $100 Million.
“It is a proposal to mandate that prisoners in our state prison system have a minimum wage of three dollars an hour,” Reed said. “The extreme liberal agenda out of Albany to prioritize funding for state prisoners, convicted felons, people that are in prison for a reason, for violating our laws, for committing crimes against our fellow citizens…”
Reed called the plan “lunacy.”
“This is lunacy. This is the extreme liberal agenda, this far left influence that is taking over the Democratic Party, this is not the Democratic Party of our grandfathers and grandmothers,” Reed said. “This is a party that has been taken over by extremism, a utopic, socialistic, communist-based type of philosophy that the Democratic Party is being overwhelmed with and this type of extremism must be stood up to.”
Reed called on Democratic lawmakers to take a stand against what he sees as extremist leanings of their party.
“Right now I just see the political winds that are behind this extreme movement taking down the adult leaders in the Democratic Party that used to be able to stand up to this extremism, show no sense of political courage, no sense of standing up to this extremism,” Reed said.
The prisoner wage increase is unfair to local governments and taxpayers, Reed repeated.
“We care about ensuring hard-working, law-abiding citizens are treated fairly, but it seems the extremists in Albany would rather prioritize prison inmates by giving them a $2 raise an hour,” Reed said. “With proposed budgets cuts of $60 million for our local towns and villages and another $550 million in healthcare funding, how is it fair to propose a raise for prisoners?
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and other state lawmakers joined Reed in criticizing the plan.
“New York State is facing a $2.9 billion budget shortfall, and the executive budget proposal calls for billions of dollars in tax increases. And now, state taxpayers need to worry they may also be saddled with footing the bill for wage increases for prisoners? It’s offensive,” Kolb said. “The proposed prisoner pay raise is misguided. Albany’s priorities should be centered around reducing the level of economic pressure placed on New York State residents and taxpayers. The state’s over-taxed, over-burdened, law-abiding citizens deserve better.”
“New York needs to get its priorities straight,” State Sen. Fred Akshar said. “We’re currently facing a $5 billion total state budget deficit, should we really be considering a 400% raise to the taxpayer-funded minimum wage for prisoners? Before we think about giving raises to prisoners, we need to fulfill our obligation to law-abiding citizens, like Direct Service Professionals who take care of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Last year Governor Cuomo promised a cost of living adjustment increase be included in each State Budget starting in 2018, but has since left it out of his 2020 budget proposal. We need to pay what we owe to law-abiding citizens before raising wages for convicted felons.”
“I am opposed to any changes in wages for prisoners especially when the state is facing a $3 billion budget deficit,” State Assemblyman Joseph Giglio said.
Prison inmates are currently required to work around 30 hours a week for wages currently ranging between 10 cents and $1.14 per hour for work that can include cleaning and manufacturing goods.
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