How can Hudson Valley families continue to get by on $7.25 an hour? Just one of the questions posed to lawmakers during a public meeting in Poughkeepsie. Our Christian Farrell has more from some local elected officials on the subject of possibly raising the state's minimum wage.
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - "If the people don't have hope, then we don't have nothing," said Beatrice Pulliam of Community Voices Heard.
Well, hope certainly filled the auditorium of the The Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie Tuesday evening. Hope, as in finding a way to climb the ladder out of poverty.
A feat some Hudson Valley elected officials say can be reached by raising the state's minimum wage.
"The last time the minimum wage had any buying power was back in 1969-1970," said state Assemblyman Frank Skartados.
Skartados and newly elected Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and state Senator Terry Gipson were guests of Community Voices Heard - the organization advocating for low income families which set up the forum to discuss issues concerning the struggling lower class.
All agreed though that an increase in the state's minimum wage of $7.25 cents an hour is a must to improve one's quality of life.
"There use to be a time where you could work for a living on minimum wage, an actually make enough money to pay a little of your rent, may be possibly buy a car, but some groceries, and that just isn't happening now - because we haven't kept up with the national trend. And New York state has really fallen behind," said Gipson.
"The number one thing we need to do is we need to get jobs to this community. And we need to make sure those jobs are jobs you can support a family on," said Maloney.
Some state lawmakers have proposed $8.75 an hour. The President has actually said he'd like to see workers earn a minimum of $9.00. Figures that would help according to community activist Pulliam.
"I think that's a good start, but because of the sharp inflation on the price of food, housing, and bills period, I don't think nine dollars will be enough," said Pulliam.