In case you missed it, here's Chris Churchill's article from today's Albany Times-Union warning of the dangers of a statewide $15 minimum wage increase.
Reasons to worry about the $15 Minimum Wage
by Chris Churchill
January 21, 2016
A $15-an-hour statewide minimum wage would be a dramatic but untested economic experiment.
No country in the world has a minimum wage that high. New York's minimum has never come close, even when adjusted for inflation.
That leaves this question: Is upstate New York and its slumbering economy the place for such a radical experiment? Even if $15 an hour might make sense in booming, high-cost New York City, is it appropriate in Utica, Watertown and Glens Falls?
Many upstate businesses and nonprofits insist it isn't. They warn that a $15 an hour minimum wage will unleash unintended consequences, and they're frustrated that nobody seems to be listening to their concerns.
"That's just a huge increase," said Howard Ganter, executive director of the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center, a Watertown nonprofit that serves the developmentally disabled. "Without additional money from the state, we won't survive."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal phases in the increase, with the minimum rising to $15 an hour in New York City by 2018 and statewide by 2021. It's a 67% jump over the current $9 statewide minimum.
If the governor is taking the concerns of businesses and nonprofits seriously, you wouldn't know it from last week's State of the State address. He made it sound as if only fat-cat corporations would be hit by the wage increase.
But big businesses such as Wal-Mart and McDonald's can better absorb the costs. It's smaller, mom-and-pop businesses that will struggle most.
You don't have to take my word for it.
Listen to Susan Novotny, owner of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza and Market Block Books in Troy. With online shopping already a threat, she worries about competing with out-of-state businesses that can pay less.
Listen to Genn Hagan, an owner at GNH Lumber, headquartered in Greenville. She calls the wage hike "a scary proposition" and warns it would force her company to trim jobs and benefits.
Listen to Patrick Pipino, who owns the Ben & Jerry's in Saratoga Springs. He says the $15 an hour minimum wage will do him in.
"I'm going to have to go find a job somewhere at the age of 50 because we won't be able to keep up," Pipino said. "That's not fear mongering. That's just a fact."
Proponents of the $15-an-hour minimum don't want to hear the concerns.
They insist that the dramatic increase will have no negatives, and they reject predictions of significant job losses. They act as if the extra money will just materialize from thin air or be picked only from the wallets of CEOs.
They talk about fairness for struggling workers, and rightly so. But the best way to raise wages for everybody is to get the upstate economy rolling — not weigh it down with costs that kill businesses.
Meanwhile, important questions remain unanswered, such as:
How will cities, towns and school districts comply with the minimum-wage requirement and avoid big tax hikes?
How will farms compete with farmers in nearby states who can pay a lower wage?
Will businesses receive tax breaks equal to increased payroll costs? (Answer: Of course not.)
What about nonprofits? Is the state willing to pick up the extra costs for places such as Jefferson Rehab Center, where the wage hike would add $6 million to a $33 million annual budget?
Will the state offset the expected rise in daycare costs? Most daycare workers make significantly less than $15 an hour, but the expense is already a struggle for parents who can't afford to pay more.
Daycare costs show how the proposed wage hike would hurt the lower-income families it's meant to help. So are potential increases in food and other consumer prices.
I should note that the business owners I've mentioned here don't oppose a higher minimum wage. They just think $15 an hour is too much — which makes sense, given that it's roughly equal to existing median incomes in much of the state.
Again, what's good for Brooklyn isn't necessarily good for Jamestown, Saranac Lake and Saratoga Springs.
For Pipino, the Ben & Jerry's owner, a $15-an-hour minimum isn't hypothetical. Cuomo ordered that food chains pay it by 2021.
Pipino and I share a common background. We grew up poor in single-mom homes. We worked low-wage jobs as teens to help with household expenses. It was invaluable experience that put us on the path to middle-class lives.
Pipino and I agree that a $15 minimum wage will deny our experience to many teenagers, because jobs will wither as businesses automate or make do with fewer workers.
Unintended consequences. They'll get you every time.
For the original article click here
Thursday, January 21, 2016