A New Minimum Wage Will Cause Maximum Damage

The $15 per hour minimum wage dilemma we currently face didn’t start with a discussion. It didn’t start with a piece of legislation or with a vote. It started with an edict. 
Last year, Gov. Cuomo undermined democracy, ignored the Legislature and arbitrarily handed a 67 percent raise to fast-food workers. He empaneled a ceremonial wage board, and dispatched his lieutenant governor to parrot his political message at every hearing, until a political appointee rubber stamped a pay raise for a single industry.   
Forget for a moment that the governor placed a higher value on those responsible for drive-thru orders than those responsible for dying patients or disabled children. It’s hard to understate the consequences of this action. It is a bell that cannot be un-rung. 
Fast-forward to where we stand now. An April 1 state budget deadline is looming, and the proposed statewide $15 per hour minimum wage hangs over negotiations like a cloud. As more reports emerge about potential deals and details, the worse it looks.
Representatives from nearly every sector of industry – health care, agriculture, education, non-profits, small business – have repeatedly stated they cannot survive a 67 percent increase in labor costs. Some have called for the state to include money in the final budget to help off-set a minimum wage hike. In their one-house budget resolution, Assembly Democrats included $200 million for health care providers to do just that. 
That means we – the taxpayers – have now been identified as a funding source for an irrational liberal proposal, one that will cost billions to implement and will be a guaranteed job killer in New York State. Every part and every version of this proposal is unacceptable – job losses, consumer cost increases and now a taxpayer subsidy.  
The state minimum wage increased to $9 per hour fewer than three months ago and has been adjusted seven times since 2013. New York is already a full $1.75 ahead of the federal standard. A $15 per hour wage is so far off the mark that it carries dramatic potential consequences. Economists estimate we could lose between 200,000 and 500,000 jobs.
I have serious concerns that the minimum wage is being negotiated exclusively by downstate elected officials – Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, and Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein – who have zero ties to upstate. It is unclear how many budget meetings there have been. The public, and most of the Legislature, have been kept in the dark. However, regardless if a minimum wage hike is being used as a negotiating tool during budget discussions, or if it will be negotiated separately, it is a bad idea and one that should be rejected.
It’s time to take a stand against the governor’s scheme, rather than double-down on a political ploy that will hurt New York.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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