Prison inmates at New York's Auburn Correctional Facility earn up to $1.15 an hour making license plates. Some lawmakers, including Brooklyn Senator Zellnor Myrie, want to increase that pay to $3. Governor Andrew Cuomo this week said he was supportive.
"I would support a wage increase for prisoners who work in our prisons," Cuomo said.
The state next year will require drivers with license plates 10 years old or older to turn those plates in and buy new ones for $25. Lawmakers have pushed back against the fee for the new plates, but Cuomo for now is not budging.
"I heard a senator on TV, shocked and amazed the price is $25. You set in law, it's been $25 for 10 years," Cuomo said.
Increasing the minimum wage for inmates in state prisons is opposed by Republicans in the state Legislature, including Senator Jim Tedisco.
"They should be working in there. They should be doing what they have to do to earn the respect to be able to get out in a timely fashion. They've taken advantage of our constituents. I don't see why they should be working and they shouldn't be getting a raise," Tedisco said.
For now, the Democratic conference in the state Senate has yet to take a position on the issue, says Democratic Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
"This is another idea that is being floated out there, but we as a conference have not begun to discuss any of these big ideas and like I said we haven't weighed in on it," Stewart-Cousins said.
No action would be taken on the bill either way until after lawmakers return to Albany in January.