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Spinning plates: Two ripoffs behind New York’s new license plates


State prisoners making license plates deserve more than 65 cents an hour.

Whichever design New Yorkers choose, the new license plates that many New Yorkers are being told they must get starting this spring are going to be ugly. Uglier still are two ripoffs embedded therein.

One, Gov. Cuomo’s DMV set a replacement price — an upgrade is deemed mandatory for anyone with decade-old plates, to ensure cashless tolling technology can read them — of $25.

When drivers and Republican pols howled, he blamed a law passed before he was governor. But that law gives the DMV authority to charge a fee “not to exceed $25.” The governor could pick a number, any number.

Now Cuomo says he’s happy to charge less, but only if the Legislature returns for a special session. What?

Second ripoff: Prisoners churning out the metal rectangles will be paid wages so low, it should outrage even the toughest law-and-order types.

Convicted criminals are correctly deprived many rights. They forfeit their very freedom of movement, their right to communicate at will with friends and family, and the ability to eat just about anything other than what’s on the mess hall menu.

But the wage they are paid for producing everything from soap to desks to license plates for Corcraft, the Division of Correctional Industries, is not just sub-minimum; it’s positively 19th century, averaging 65 cents an hour. At that rate, a full-time worker would collect $1,300 a year, almost every dime of which would typically go to things like child support, restitution costs and prison fees.

A bill by Brooklyn state Sen. Zellnor Myrie would raise the wage to $3. That’s more like it.