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Not the right way to raise minimum wage

January 28, 2016
Editorial , Lake Placid News

We're not in favor of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to raise the minimum wage to $15 statewide by 2021.

For a 40-hour-a-week job, that's $31,200, more than many college-educated professionals make now. It sounds great, but it's unrealistic to think such a leap could be made without serious unintended consequences.

It would be a huge blow to businesses and employment, especially small businesses. Many of them will eliminate positions, and others will simply shut down. We can understand raising the minimum wage, but it would be better to raise it in small amounts and tie it to the rate of inflation instead of using it as a political tool. The minimum wage is not supposed to be a living wage; it's also earned by teenagers and many others who don't have to support households. Paying a 14-year-old $15 an hour to man a soft ice cream stand in the summer makes no sense.

This wage hike is also a recipe for tax hikes. Many local government bodies and state agencies pay workers less than $15 an hour now and would have to raise that. When that happens to your town highway department, your property taxes will have to increase accordingly, just as they do when health insurance costs rise.

We'd love for all the bottom earners to get a raise, but if it's done this way, we believe New Yorkers will look back on it with regret.

Our state senator, Betty Little, says her office gets calls almost daily from constituents worried about this $15 minimum wage hike. We can see why that would be so.

Many of the initiatives Gov. Cuomo is pushing for are good, but we worry about him and the Assembly's Democratic majority tying those things to this minimum wage hike in the upcoming budget negotiations.


Budget highlights

In his recent State of the State and Budget Address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets a thumbs up for acknowledging that the state's push to enact Common Core State Standards too fast, to flood schools with new tests and to tie teacher evaluations to students' standardized test scores was misguided. He admitted that the public didn't buy it and that, on average, 20 percent of parents opted their students out of the tests this spring - in some districts the number was as high as 90 percent. This governor is a savvy enough politician to recognize the will of the people when he sees it. Of course, he blamed the old plan on the state Education Department when he had just as much to do with it - just listen to last year's State of the State speech when he leaned on teachers harder than ever - but still, the policy reversal is what counts.

We also approve of the governor's call to make the state's Freedom of Information Law apply to the legislature, too. Lawmakers have resisted this since the beginning, which is pure hypocrisy. We hope they are chastened enough by the recent scandals to change that.

And it was good to hear the governor's announcement of state aid for municipal infrastructure like roads, bridges and broadband Internet. This is big-picture stuff that local governments, which rely on property taxes, can't be expected to keep up with on their own.



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