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The two Cuomos

The two sides of Gov. Andrew Cuomo were on full display this week. On Monday, he announced a plan to hike the minimum wage for state university workers to $15 an hour and vowed to continue his push for a statewide increase for all workers. A day later, the governor visited Rochester and rolled out part of his 2016 agenda, with a particular focus on tax cuts for small businesses.

Monday’s announcement was the latest in a series of moves designed to make New York the first state in the nation with a $15-an-hour minimum wage for all workers. He’s also boosted the wage for fast-food workers and some 10,000 people on the state payroll.

“If you work full time, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty—plain and simple,” Mr. Cuomo said in September when he declared he would push for a statewide hike. “We can restore hope and opportunity, and we will do it with a $15 minimum wage that ensures economic justice for all.”

Among the governor’s liberal base, the campaign surely has earned him many points. But in Upstate New York, and particularly among employers, many see it as just more evidence that he does not understand or care about the challenges they face doing business in New York.

By contrast, Mr. Cuomo’s Rochester appearance brought welcome news that his executive budget will include small business tax relief. The governor’s plan would benefit both small firms that file as corporations and those organized as partnerships, S corporations and LLCs. He proposes allowing the latter to exclude 15 percent of their income from taxes.

Trying to please everyone makes sense politically, but it could prove hard to achieve. Many in the business community take a dim view of the governor.

Yet his numbers are not much better among all New Yorkers. In the latest Siena Research Institute poll, only 39 percent said his job performance was excellent or good.

To truly boost the New York economy, which requires conditions that encourage employers to add jobs versus eliminating them, Mr. Cuomo might accept that he cannot keep all of his constituents happy, at least in the short term.

1/8/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

One comment

  1. A nicely written opinion piece that correctly points out the contradictions of Cuomo’s approach to governing. By maintaining control of the no-longer-free market, he can decide who should benefit from his largesse. Handing out piecemeal favors is no way to govern.

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