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Another Voice: $15 minimum wage would be bad for New York

By Patrick Gallivan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leading what he calls a Fight for $15, an increase in New York’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, effective by the end of 2018 in New York City and 2021 for the rest of the state. Such a move would put New York businesses at a competitive disadvantage, result in job losses for hard-working New Yorkers and lead to higher costs for consumers and taxpayers.

The impact of such a substantial hike in the minimum wage would be especially hard on small businesses, which serve as the backbone of our upstate economy. According to the Empire Center for Public Policy, a $15 minimum wage would cost at least 200,000 private-sector jobs, including 19,000 in Western New York. The agricultural industry would also be hit hard. The New York State Farm Bureau says the increase would cost the industry an additional $500 million and put New York farmers at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states.

The higher minimum wage would also require school districts and state and local governments to spend millions more in labor costs. The New York State Association of School Business Officials estimates the cost to school districts alone would exceed $275 million, further driving up local property taxes. The impact on state, county, city, town and village governments would be even greater.

Taxpayers would also share in the added cost to government-subsidized sectors of the economy, including hospitals, nursing homes, child care centers and nonprofit organizations.

Members of the New York Council of Nonprofits say it would be unfair for the state to expect them to bear the entire cost of a minimum wage increase, and without additional taxpayer support, many of these organizations say they will be forced to cut staff, reduce services or both. The council conducted an informal poll of nonprofit leaders and found 92 percent who said their organization’s financial sustainability would be jeopardized.

Keep in mind; the governor’s push for a $15 minimum wage comes just weeks after New York increased its minimum. On Dec. 30, 2015, the minimum wage jumped from $8.75 to $9 per hour, part of a series of annual increases that started in 2013. Over the past three years, the minimum wage has increased 24 percent. Now the governor and some in the Legislature are calling for a 67 percent hike.

New York’s reputation as a state that overtaxes and overregulates businesses is well known. The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization, ranks New York 49th on its State Business Tax Climate Index.

Rather than increase the burdensome and costly regulations on New York businesses, we should work to grow jobs and create opportunities for all.

Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, represents the 59th State Senate District.