Following bill signing, Governor speaks at a victory rally with more than 1,000 workers, advocates, labor leaders and elected officials
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation enacting a statewide $15 minimum wage plan and 12-week paid family leave policy in New York State. Immediately after signing this legislation into law, Governor Cuomo spoke before a celebratory rally of more than 1,000 workers, advocates, labor leaders and elected officials at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.
Video of the Governor signing this legislation is available here.
Video of the Governor’s remarks at the victory rally is available on YouTube here and in TV-quality format here.
Photos from both the signing and the victory rally will be available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
Additional information on the statewide $15 minimum wage plan and the nation’s strongest paid family leave policy is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks at the victory rally is available below:
Thank you! First, I want you all to know that this morning, I signed a bill into law – you don’t know what the bill is – I signed a bill into law and that bill will grow this state's economy for everyone, it will restore economic fairness and it will make life better for over two million New Yorkers when we raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The thanks go to the people in this room. It was the labor movement that built this nation's middle class in the first place and we're rebuilding the middle class for a new economy today. And the thanks goes to the New Yorkers who got involved, put aside their institutional differences and their political differences to make this law a reality. Speaker Carl Heastie, give him a round of applause. Senate Leader John Flanagan because the Senate passed this with all 60 votes and we give him a round of applause. And we had the support of great advocates and great unions and want to thank Mary Kay Henry, give her a big round of applause. George Gresham who not only, he not only had to work very hard to get it passed, he had to endure me in that RV day after day after day, so give him a second round of applause. And Hector Figueroa from 32BJ. And Mario Cilento from the AFL-CIO. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. Senator Jeff Klein. Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and many, many more.
We defined the problem, we explained the unfairness and the people of the state of New York responded because the people of this state demand fairness and demand justice. And there is still a right thing and a wrong thing in life and New Yorkers do the right thing every time and they did on this bill. And the truth is we told it is yes, people are angry. You don’t need to turn on the TV and watch those talking heads to tell you that people are angry. We know people are angry. Middle class people, working family people are angry and it's not a feeling, it's the facts. They should be angry because the truth is in this economy, they have been going backwards for decades and this new economy is not a fair economy for the working families and middle class of this country. That's the truth. The people at the top are making more and more and the middle class and the working families are going backwards. Productivity has gone up 70 percent. Worker's wages have only gone up 9 percent. Top 1 percent has gone up 138 percent at the same time. That's not right, it's not fair and we won't let it stand in the state of New York.
People are angry because they're afraid and they fear that the American Dream is slipping away. The dream that said your children are going to have a better life than you; that every generation does better. They’re afraid they’re losing that dream. Why? Because you can’t afford the cost of living increases when you have stagnant wages. And that’s right where we’ve been. How do you afford if you’re working family, middle class family, how do you afford the increases in college tuition? How do you afford a home? How do you afford property taxes? You can’t. We want fairness, we want economic fairness, we want economic justice, and we want it now. That was the claim.
So, people are angry. Yes. Not only in this state, it’s in this nation. But the real question is: what do you do now with this anger? Where do you take it? And where do you lead the state and where do you lead the country? Because we’re at a fork in the road. We can go two different ways. There is a positive fork and there is a negative fork. We named this campaign for Mario Cuomo because Mario Cuomo said when you have a problem what you do is you confront it. And you confront it together. And you don’t divide people. You come together and you resolve the issue. And Mario Cuomo said the economy doesn’t work for any of us until it works for all of us. That the greatest feast is the feast where the most people share in that feast. That was his vision for New York.
And that’s our vision for New York, and that’s what we did. We worked together, democrats and republicans, assembly and senate, labor and management, and we passed a new budget, a new plan for the state of New York that is revolutionary. That is a new vision for this state going forward. A vision that says “we need an economy that has full employment, and we have to create jobs – not just for high-tech geniuses – but we need an economy where we manufacture things again. Where people who work with their hands have a place in the economy.”
We passed a budget with the greatest investment in infrastructure in the history of the state - $50 billion – we’re literally going to build a new future. We’re building LaGuardia Airport, we’re going to build a new Penn Station, new subways, new rails, new roads, new bridges, all across this state.
We are – thank you. Thank you. We are reducing the burden on the middle class. We cut taxes on the middle class – listen to this – to the lowest rate since 1947, over 70 years, because the middle class needs a break. And we’re investing over $1 billion in college affordability, because everyone’s child should be able to go to college, and no one should be turned away because they can’t pay the tuition. And we are restoring respect and pride and dignity to the worker with paid family leave, which says no one should choose between seeing their child born and earning a paycheck.
And we’re restoring the promise and fairness by saying – when FDR proposed the minimum wage, do you know what he said? If you work full time, you should be paid a wage that provides a decent living. That’s what FDR said. A decent living. And the truth is, at $9 an hour, you can’t afford to raise a family in New York. And that’s why we’re going to raise it to $15 an hour to restore fairness and decency.
Now: I’ll tell you what we did not do in New York. We didn’t take the anger and we didn’t fan the flames of the anger and we didn’t use the anger politically. And some voices out there want to do just that: they want to take that anger and they want to use it politically. They want to use it as a way to turn us against each other. That is what they are saying.
They are taking that fear and they are saying: “Well you know what causes that fear? It is the people who are different and the differences are the problem. You know those different people, those people with a different color skin, those people who speak different languages, those people who have a different sexual orientation, those people who worship a different religion – the differences are the problem. And the differences are the immigrants, so here is there solution, we are going to make a list. A long list. Of all of the immigrants and we are going to write down all of their names and then we are going to go find them and going to kick them out of the country and just to make sure they don’t come back we are going to build a wall. I don’t mean a little wall, I mean a really, really big wall. I mean our wall is going to make the wall of china look like a curb. This wall is going to be so big and don’t worry it will be a good looking wall. It is going to be a handsome wall. It will not be a cheap wall. It will have a gold band at the top of the wall. It is going to be a beautiful wall.”
That is their plan. What kind of a plan is that? Build a wall? Now, if you think that that is how you make America great again I say to you that you don’t know what made America great in the first place.
What made America great is this room – that is what made America great. African Americans working with Latinos made America great. Italian Americans, Irish Americans made this country great. Christians and Jews and Muslims all working together – that is what made this country great. That spirit of unity. You think that you can make us fear our diversity? We celebrate our diversity. You think we are going to fear our immigrants? Look in the mirror, we are all immigrants.
That my friends is the essence of this country. This country was never formed on one race or one religion. We had a unique premise. We put a welcome sign up and said, “You are all invited in.” People from all over the globe come to us join the family of America and the family of New York. And we will work with you to make your life better and your families better, and we will help you get an education, and we will help you get healthcare – because we want you to do well, because when one of us does well we all do well. Because we believe that there is a cord to you and to you and to you and that cord weaves a fabric and that is the fabric of society. And in that fabric when one is raised we are all raised. When one is lowered we are all lowered, that is what we believe and this state is the laboratory of that American experiment and democracy. The statue of liberty is in our harbor.
You say, that the future is in building walls and dividing? New York says the future lies in building bridges and unifying people. And today, at this time of adversity, at this time of fear, and at this time of anger, New York says we can rebuild this economy. We can do it together, we can include the working men and women with rights and fairness and dignity and make this place a better place for all of us. That’s what this bill was about and that’s what this campaign was all about and that was the essence of Mario Cuomo – that we are all here together. They think the strongest four-letter word is hate. We think the strongest four-letter word is love and we believe there is nothing we can’t do when we come together. We showed that in this campaign. We showed that when we signed this bill into law. We showed that when New York stood up and said, “Look at us. We’re going to make this place a better place together.” Mario Cuomo is looking down on us today and he is smiling today because he is proud of the example this state has set, for the people of this state and the people of this nation. Thank you for making it a reality. God bless you.