01/30/2012 06:12 pm ET

New York Minimum Wage: Speaker Sheldon Silver Proposes Legislation To Lift Lowest Salaries

All that talk about income inequality may be having its effect in Albany. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan ) is proposing a bill to raise the minimum wage 17 percent.

The measure would bump the wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour, or from $14,500 a year to $17,000 a year.

"It's absurd to expect anyone, let alone a working family, to afford the cost of living today," Silver said, according to CBS News.

If the bill were to pass, New York would have the third highest minimum wage in the country, behind only Washington and Oregon. Currently, 18 other states have higher minimum wages. The last time the state legislature voted to raise the wage was 8 years ago.

The measure enjoys support from both Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo.

"The cost of living in New York City, like nearly everywhere else, has gone up," Bloomberg said during his annual State of the City address earlier this month. "And not just housing, but food, transit and all the key parts of a family's budget. But there's one thing that, in all fairness, hasn't gone up: The ability of those at the bottom of the economic ladder to pay for those essential needs."

Bloomberg, however, backtracked slightly today, according to Capital New York. "I said I would 'support'--conceptually, I did not have a problem and said that I would support Shelly's idea of a raise ... I haven't looked at that number yet," Bloomberg said. "You want to make sure that it is competitive with the adjoining states first. Number two, what it’s likely to do is to reduce employment among young people. And so we've got to see with the expected decrease in jobs for young people that invariably would come out of an increase in the minimum wage, how we're going to have funds to create jobs for those kids."

The bill, of course, also has its outright opponents. From The New York Times:

"The national minimum wage went up, and in the United States of America the economy's the worst it's been since the Great Depression," said Senator Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican. Mr. Libous said he was skeptical of studies suggesting that increasing the minimum wage spurs economic growth.

"I think that's a lame theory that doesn't amount to much," he said.