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Business Groups, Politicians React To Minimum Wage Raise To $15

State Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, said the minimum wage portion of the state budget included a compromise that helps workers but protects businesses if the economy weakens.
State Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park, said the minimum wage portion of the state budget included a compromise that helps workers but protects businesses if the economy weakens. Photo Credit: Sue Serino Facebook page
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was successful in his fight for the state legislature to pass legislation boosting New York's minimum wage to $15.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was successful in his fight for the state legislature to pass legislation boosting New York's minimum wage to $15. Photo Credit: governor.ny.gov

Passage of a phased-in hike in the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour was generally praised by many elected officials but panned by some business leaders.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders reached an agreement on new minimum wages as part of the 2016-17 budget deal approved late Thursday.

Wages will begin to increase in January under terms of the plan, with New York City hitting to $15 within three years.

Workers in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, will see an increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on Dec. 31, 2021.

For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another .70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on Dec. 31, 2020 – after which will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.

Businesses that have fewer than 10 employees will get to $15 within four years.

Officials from the Business Council of Westchester and Rockland Business Association opposed any minimum wage increase.

But Friday, they said they were happy that wage boosts will be phased in with a delayed impact on Upstate counties including Dutchess, Rockland and Putnam.

The Business Council of Westchester played an important role in slowing down the implementation which in Westchester will take place over five‐years.

"The controversial proposal to raise the State Minimum Wage to $15 was included, but not in a one‐shot manner as originally proposed," the BCA said in a statement Friday. "The Business Council of Westchester played an important role in slowing down the implementation which in Westchester will take place over five‐years.  Further, if the economy weakens, the increases will be curtailed.  We were also successful in separating Westchester from New York City in this discussion."

State Sen. Sue Serino, a Republican from Hyde Park, said:

"The issue of a minimum wage increase is undoubtedly been the most contentious and it is one that I took directly to our community," Serino said.

The proposal that passed Thursday, coupled with the extensive tax cuts included in this year’s budget, strikes a balance between what will work for businesses, farms and organizations and what workers need to afford to live here, Serino concluded.

"Most importantly, the bill provides a safeguard that would prevent the wage from increasing should the economy take a turn for the worse," Serino said.

For Daily Voice's earlier report on the minimum wage increase, click here.

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