NY Small Businesses Warns $15 Minimum Wage Will Be Devastating

Connor D. Wolf

New York small business owners gathered Tuesday at the capitol in Albany to urge state lawmakers to stop their pursuit of the $15 minimum wage.

New York has the potential to be the first state with a $15 minimum wage. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made the policy a priority while labor unions and lawmakers across the state have helped to advocate for it. Those in support of the policy argue it could help address income inequality but small business owners warned at the rally it could harm the economy.

“We’re competing with states like Pennsylvania and Idaho,” Farm Owner Eric Ooms said at the rally, according to The Associated Press. “[Its] incredibly awful for the dairy industry, but it’s even worse for the vegetable farmers and the fruit farmers who can’t do the automation.”

Ooms owns a family dairy farm but already state policies have forced them to take drastic actions like the use of robotic milkers. He warns the increase will only make the problems worse. Cuomo announced a proposal Sept. 10 designed to phase in the increase statewide over a few years. He has also given numerous speeches and traveled around the state to push his increase.

The $15 minimum wage has only been enacted on the city level, making its impact fairly unpredictable. More so those cities that did enact it designed their measures to phase in over a few years, meaning the local impact is still uncharted territory. It could give lower-income individuals the ability to afford more basic necessities but it has the potential to actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found both positive and negative results when it looked at minimum wage increases in the past. It foundany increase in the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss. The higher the increase, the more impact it will have. The state minimum wage is currently $9.00, making the proposal very dramatic.

Cuomo released a list purporting to show 85 businesses that support his proposal. The list has been criticized for mostly consisting of venture capitalists and corporations. Small business tend to have more difficultly overcoming minimum wage increases.

Cuomo has also proposed and implemented a number of tax cuts to help relieve costs for small businesses in the state. He has also found ways to unilaterally and partially enact the policy by utilizing his executive authority. He has bypassed the state legislature to raise wages for fast-food workers, state university workers and state employees.

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