On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $15 minimum wage for all state workers. With this declaration, New York would become the first state to guarantee a $15 state worker minimum wage.
"I believe that if you work hard and work full time, you should not be condemned to live in poverty," Cuomo said in a press release. "Yet millions of families nationwide continue to be left behind by an insufficient minimum wage — and it's time that changed."
The new minimum wage increase would help about 10,000 public sector workers, which represents about 6.5 percent of the state workforce. About 9,000 of these state workers live outside of New York City. Lifeguards, office assistants, and custodians are among the state workers who will benefit from the minimum wage increase.
Connie Razza, the director of strategic research at the Center for Popular Democracy, said to NBC News that this wage increase is "exactly the kind of steps that governments and mayors can be taking right away, even as we move to raise the minimum wage for all workers through legislative or electoral means."
The current minimum wage of $8.75 in New York will increase to $9 by the end of December 2015 for all workers.
"Today in New York, we are leading by example and creating an economy that is defined by opportunity, not inequality," Cuomo said in a press release. "We are restoring the fairness and economic justice that built the American dream and standing up for what's right.
To enact the minimum wage increase for state workers, Cuomo avoided the state legislature and acted on his own through a multipart strategy. This procedure included directing the wage increase through the Division of Budget. The $15 increase will be phased in over several years until 2018 for New York City and until 2021 for the rest of the state.
Other states could follow Cuomo's executive actions to increase their wages.
Cuomo also said that he would like to change the labor law to prevent future governors in New York from eliminating the wage increase.