New York business groups come together to oppose Cuomo's call for $15 minimum wage

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ALBANY, New York — Several of New York state's largest and most influential business groups are coming together to fight Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for a $15 minimum wage, saying such a steep increase would devastate small businesses and lead to higher prices for consumers.

The organized opposition will launch its push to defeat the proposal on Wednesday at the state Capitol. The coalition includes the state Farm Bureau, the Restaurant Association, Associated General Contractors of New York and several other trade groups and chambers of commerce.

"The governor's minimum wage proposal is simply too much, too fast," said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State. "Areas of New York, especially upstate, are experiencing little or no economic growth. ... Forcing businesses to artificially inflate wages now will result in fewer worker hours, automation and closures."

Cuomo, a Democrat, wants to gradually phase in the increase and extend tax incentives to businesses to defray the higher labor costs. The governor has argued that an increase would benefit the overall economy because low-wage workers would spend the money locally.

"If you work full time you shouldn't be condemned to a life of poverty," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. "It is no secret that these groups oppose the governor's minimum wage proposal, in fact most of them have aggressively opposed every minimum wage increase."

Earlier this year his administration sidestepped the Legislature to approve a phased-in $15 minimum wage for employees at chain fast-food restaurants — the highest statewide minimum wage in the country.

Lawmakers will get a say, however, on Cuomo's proposal to extend the $15 wage floor to all industries. While the Assembly's Democratic majority supports the plan, the proposal is likely to run into opposition in the GOP-dominated Senate when lawmakers return to Albany in January.

New York's minimum wage is now $8.75 and is set to rise to $9 at year's end.

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