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Cuomo proposes raising minimum wage to $15 statewide

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour earned warnings and criticism from business groups, but praise from an array of government, union and non-profit leaders.
Cuomo, joined by Vice President Joseph Biden, on Thursday announced a push to make New York the first state in the nation to adopt a $15 per hour minimum wage.

The governor’s proposed all-industry minimum wage increase would be phased in to mirror the fast-food wage order—signed Thursday by Acting State Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino—taking full effect by Dec. 31, 2018 in New York City and July 1, 2021 for the rest of the state.

“The governor’s call for a $15 minimum wage statewide is a huge step backwards for the upstate economy,” said Greg Biryla, Unshackle Upstate executive director, in a statement. “The businesses, non-profits, consumers and local governments of Upstate New York—where we are working hard to recover from a half-century of job and population loss—simply cannot afford an unprecedented 67 percent minimum wage increase.

“New York already is considered one of the worst states in the nation in which to start or grow a business; this new wage mandate will only make the state’s business climate more toxic.”

 The state needs Albany to enact policies that will allow businesses to grow and create new jobs, not provide more reasons to leave New York for economic opportunities elsewhere, he added, calling the call for a statewide $15 minimum wage another example of Albany’s failure to understand a basic reality about New York State: policies that might work in Manhattan destroy jobs upstate.

Rochester Business Alliance Inc. president and CEO Robert Duffy also responded to Cuomo’s proposal for an across-the-board $15 an hour minimum wage. Duffy called for an offset of savings for businesses.

“As the proposal moves forward, Rochester Business Alliance urges Governor Cuomo to consider the impact an across-the-board $15 an hour minimum wage will have on businesses, jobs, and consumers,” said Duffy, who served one-term as lieutenant governor with Cuomo. “RBA members consistently tell us that to keep up with an increased minimum wage, they will be forced to cut jobs and hours and increase prices.

“If this wage hike is enacted, Rochester Business Alliance asks for an equal offset from the state for all impacted businesses in the form of tax cuts and workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance savings. An equal or greater offset of savings for businesses can make this situation a win for all sides.”

Heather Briccetti, president and CEO the Business Council of New York State Inc., called the move “not unexpected” but “still deeply disappointing.”

“A $15 an hour wage is a significant increase from the $11.50 proposed by the governor and rejected by the Senate earlier this year and would likely have a negative impact on job creation and individual businesses,” she said in a statement. “We look forward to working with our allies in the Legislature and the business community to ensure such a drastic increase is avoided.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie welcomed the move.

“Today’s action by the state Labor Commissioner will greatly improve the lives of thousands of fast food workers in New York, and I am glad that Governor Cuomo is joining the Assembly in our fight for a substantial increase in the statewide minimum wage for all workers.”

“No one who works a full time job should have to live in poverty. A significant increase in the state minimum wage will help our families grow and enable neighborhoods to thrive,” he added.

(c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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