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New York minimum wage bill met with resistance

A push by some New York lawmakers to increase the minimum wage to as much as $21.25 an hour by 2026 is meeting resistance from the business community.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Business Council of New York State issued a statement saying, such moves usually have the opposite effect of what’s intended.

“The Business Council does not support mandated minimum wage increases at this time as they generally do not help the people they are intended to help,” Director of Communications Patrick Bailey said.

“Small businesses, in particular, are already saddled with high unemployment taxes and other state-imposed mandates that, when faced with higher wage mandates on top of it all, force them to make tough decisions that often time result in staff reductions.”

The statement comes less than a week after Senate Committee on Labor, Chair Jessica Ramos, D-Queens, amended a bill she’s had before lawmakers since last year that would increase the minimum wage.

Senate Bill S3062D, Ramos’ proposal, calls for the minimum wage to go up from the current $15 hourly rate in New York City to $17.25 by Jan. 1, 2024, with $2 raises each year until it reaches $21.25 in 2026. After that, the minimum wage would be adjusted due to inflation.

Workers in New York City suburbs in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties would also see their wages jump to $21.25 an hour by 2026. Upstate workers, who currently have a minimum wage of $13.20, would earn at least $20 an hour by 2026.

In her justification statement for the bill, Ramos said about 1-in-6 workers, roughly 1 million people, earn minimum wage.

That wage loses significant buying power due to inflation, and New York lawmakers do not always adjust that rate yearly.

“By joining eighteen other states that have tied the minimum wage to inflation, minimum wage workers in New York State will maintain their purchasing power without yearly legislative action,” Ramos said.Ramos’ bill currently has nine cosponsors in the Senate.

NFIB New York State Director Ashley Ranslow called the proposal “staggering” since many New York businesses have not fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, and other challenges that have arisen over the last couple of years.

“Not only will many small businesses not be able to afford these higher wages and the payroll taxes that accompany them, but there will also be immense pressure to adjust wages up the pay scale,” Ranslow said. “All-in-all, this is terrible for small businesses and a bad idea while the state and nation’s economy is at risk of diving into a recession.”

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