Local leaders dispute minimum wage at state budget presentation

NORWICH – Minimum wage became a focus issue at a presentation of the state’s 2016-2017 budget at the Northeast Classic Car Museum on Friday.

Local leaders in the business, government, education and nonprofit sectors gathered at the museum in Norwich Friday to hear retired Army Colonel Eric Hesse, Director of the NYS Division of Veterans Affairs present the finalized state budget which, among other things, calls for implementation of a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 over several years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the plan into law last week.

While advocates of the minimum wage increase say it will lift workers out of poverty, many local officials argue that it will do more harm than good by putting fiscal stress on small businesses and tying the hands of publically funded entities such as schools, county government, municipalities and nonprofits.

According to Commerce Chenango President and CEO Steve Craig, those entities will be “squeezed out of existence in the next five years.” The raise will be especially burdensome on local governments and school districts that are obligated to stay under the state-mandated tax cap, he said.

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