In a speech to the City Council on Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the prevailing-wage bill and indicated he would do the same for the living-wage bill. The snubbed bill, which had been passed recently by the City Council, would oblige buildings where the city is a major tenant and those benefitting from city investments to pay different, higher wages to service workers like janitors.
The Wall Street Journal reports the mayor sternly argued the prevailing-wage bill would reverse positive trends in city economy. “Those bills, the so-called living- and prevailing-wage bills, are a throwback to an era when government viewed the private sector as a cash cow to be milked rather than a garden to be cultivated. In those days, the government took the private sector for granted,” Bloomberg said.
The living-wage bill, expected to be passed by the City Council next week, would require any firm receiving city subsidies amounting to a million dollars or more to pay its employees a minimum of $10.00 an hour. Said the mayor, “You cannot tell [businesses] that they have to pay a minimum wage higher than the competitor across the street. They just won’t do it, and those jobs will be lost, and so will the tax revenues they would have generated.”
Council speaker Christine Quinn, often a backer of Mayor Bloomberg, said she was disappointed by his decision. “This year alone, city benefits to businesses and developers will cost taxpayers nearly $250 million. All we are trying to do is ensure that taxpayer investment is going to subsidize jobs that pay a reasonable wage.”