Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) today stood with his colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference and was joined by representatives from the business community, farming industry and non-profit organizations to offer common-sense alternatives to the governor’s proposed minimum wage spike to $15 per hour.
Leader Kolb and members of the Assembly Minority have proposed legislation to provide greater financial help to low-income New Yorkers and increase access to training and education for those seeking higher-quality jobs. The proposals seek to ensure the interests of both employers and employees are satisfied and place a premium on long-term economic growth.
“If we really want to help low-income New Yorkers, we need alternatives that do not decimate job creators and send businesses to other states,” Leader Kolb said. “It defies logic to impose another crushing mandate on small businesses, non-profits, school districts and health care providers already struggling to stay afloat in an abysmal tax and economic climate. A drastic and unwarranted minimum wage hike will do more harm than good to low-income earners, who may find themselves out of a job.”
Organizations representing nearly every sector have expressed grave concerns over a 67 percent hike in the state minimum wage. Since the governor unilaterally and arbitrarily raised the minimum wage for fast-food workers, leaders from non-profits, the health care industry, care providers for people with developmental disabilities, and school districts have warned of staff and program cuts should a similar increase be forced on them.
A recent report from the American Action Forum and the Empire Center for New York State Policy stated increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour could cost the state at least 200,000 and as many as 588,800 jobs. The report also predicted an increase to $15 per hour would cost New York businesses $4.6 billion. A Siena poll from last month showed a whopping 87 percent of upstate business owners oppose the plan.
“We are proud to stand here today with the Assembly Minority and our colleagues in the business and employer community to once again reiterate our objections to the proposed $15 an hour minimum wage,” said Kenneth J. Pokalsky, Vice President of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “As the analysis referenced here today states, the proposed increase would most negatively impact the very people advocates claim to be trying to help. The Assembly Minority and Leader Kolb are right to be supporting an expansion of the EITC, which is widely seen as an effective and efficient policy for supporting low-income working families.”
“As the volume increases on the issue of minimum wage increases, it is important for lawmakers to understand that small-business owners are a large part of the struggling middle class,” said Mike Durant, State Director of NFIB. “Providing sensible alternatives to wage increases will help New York address its growing skills gap and provide employers with the workers they are actively seeking. Arbitrarily increasing labor costs on small employers will continue the hiring freeze and further push low-income New Yorkers away from good paying jobs.”
“Unshackle Upstate is grateful to the Assembly Minority Conference for taking a strong stand against this devastating minimum wage proposal. When you look at the impacts of this 67 percent minimum wage hike – at least 200,000 lost jobs, large tax increases and higher prices for consumers – it should be crystal clear that this increase will do far more harm than good,” said Greg Biryla, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate. “Upstate New York, which relies on the small businesses and family farms, will be especially hard hit. Our organization, in partnership with 51 other groups that support the Minimum Wage Reality Check campaign, is committed to protecting Upstate jobs and overburdened taxpayers.”
“A $15 minimum wage is bad for New York agriculture. Our farmers cannot expect to compete when their labor costs are drastically higher than those for farmers from surrounding states. If they can’t recoup those losses, the alternatives will be layoffs, automation or closing the barn doors for good,” said Jeff Williams, New York Farm Bureau Public Policy Director.
Peter Guidarelli, a parent of a child with a disability and an employee of the Warren, Washington and Albany Counties Chapter of NYSARC, Inc. said: “Our staff does not understand why fast food workers are being given $15 an hour while people who care for the lives of people with disabilities are funded by the state and federal government through Medicaid, and only get $10-$11 an hour to care for another human being. We believe everyone deserves a commensurate wage for the job they perform, but if people have the choice to work a cash register for $15 an hour or feed, change, bathe a person and have the life of child with a disability in their hands, sadly people will chose the easier job. We already have staffing shortages and this is creating a caregiving crisis for our most vulnerable, whom government is obligated to protect and they should be prioritized.”
The proposed Assembly Minority Conference legislation aims to create programs that empower all New Yorkers and improve their quality of life through sound, sustainable proposals. The Conference has supported expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and instituting a youth apprenticeship program to organically improve wages, educate our youth and create opportunities for success without sacrificing small businesses and job creators. Some of the provisions of their proposals include:
Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit
While the minimum wage has been adjusted seven times since 2013, the EITC has not been expanded in 12 years. The Assembly Minority has proposed legislation (A.9102, Kolb) to expand the EITC, which would directly help those New Yorkers who are living paycheck to paycheck. A 2008 report commissioned by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) states:
- An expansion of the EITC to 45 percent of the federal credit “is estimated to increase employment by between 7,125 and 21,363 single mothers;” and
- An EITC increase would introduce more than 14,000 individuals into the workforce.
In addition to expanding the EITC, the Assembly Minority has proposed a measure that would allow the tax credit to be distributed in installment payments to help with monthly expenses (A.7486, Goodell).
Creating the Learning for Work Program
- Instituting a new youth apprenticeship program (the Learning for Work Program) that would create a one- or two-year program in high school that combines academic classroom coursework with mentored on-the-job training, and provides a $1,500 per apprentice tax credit for participating businesses (A.8695 Lupinacci); and
- Creating a new community college merit and mobility scholarship that would encourage students to attend community college and get the training necessary to fill the middle-skill jobs of the future (A.8691-A, Lupinacci).
These policies would directly help those New Yorkers who are living paycheck to paycheck, and would begin to provide them with the skills they need to earn higher wages over the course of their careers. This approach would also benefit employers by training young workers to fit their long-term needs, and avoiding the dramatic, harmful increase in costs that would accompany the governor’s proposed minimum wage hike.