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Local News

January 22, 2013

Wage hike proposal worries area pols

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed in his State of the State address that New York raise the minimum wage by $1.50 an hour to $8.75. But the idea isn’t getting much support among area legislators.

Even Assemblyman Bill Magee of Nelson, a fellow Democrat, has some reservations about the governor’s plan.

“I haven’t made my final decision,” Magee said last week. “But I think it could be a negative impact on agriculture and tourism. … Both of them are big in my district.”

Republicans described an increase as a job-killing initiative that would disproportionately hurt segments of the local economy ill-suited to compensate for the additional cost.

“This is a mandated increase in the cost of doing business,” said Assemblyman Clifford Crouch, R-Guilford. “Many of our farms are mom-and-pop businesses across the state, with no avenue to increase your revenues (or) have cost savings to compensate for that.”

Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, also warned of problems.

“Most of our jobs are provided by small businesses,” he said. “And many of our small businesses are just hanging on; they’re struggling. The danger is unless we can find a way to help take some of the financial pressure off them, the translation —  the strict translation between a minimum-wage increase and employment — will be to reduce numbers of jobs in the strictest sense.”

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, also saw an effect on the number of people employed.

“I just worry that we’re going to deny opportunities for employment to people who otherwise would just be sitting on unemployment or be unemployed,” she said.

She added that small businesses would suffer.

“Walmart, the big-box stores, the big companies, they’re not affected by the minimum-wage increase, because most of them are certainly not paying the minimum wage,” she said. “If anything, they’re for it, because all it does is make it harder for their smaller competitors.”

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