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January 22, 2013

Wage hike proposal worries area pols


State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said through a spokesman that he, too, opposes the initiative.

“He’s willing to look at any legislation, obviously,” Seward spokesman Jeff Bishop said. “But at this point, an increase in the minimum wage would be counterproductive to job development, especially in our area, so … he is against a minimum-wage increase at this point.”

Most of the legislators said that they might be more receptive to a bill that softened the blow for small businesses.

“If the governor is sincere about moving this forward, which I think he is, we should be looking intelligently, thoughtfully at some tax incentives or other means of helping provide relief to small businesses, so that we’re not just robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Lopez said.

“If we can come to agreement with the small businesses and find a way to help provide them financial relief, and not just lay this at their feet, then we may have an ability to come to some common ground,” he added.

Tenney, however, opposes tax credits as an offset.

“That’s sensational for Walmart and the big-box stores, but devastating for small businesses,” she said. “You have to have profits to have tax credits to mean anything to you.”

Crouch saw a possibility for compromise if a minimum-wage hike were enacted with other reforms.

“I’d have to look at that,” he said. “We have been looking at workers’ comp reform for a number of years, unemployment reform, changes in the scaffolding law, which would save money for every business across the state. If we could get some serious reform for cost savings to these businesses, certainly that could be on the table for discussion.”

Tenney agreed that workers’ comp reform is overdue.

“New York, although we did make some small reforms four or five years ago, still has very expensive worker’s comp, with some of the worst benefits for employees,” she said. “That should be reversed.”

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