Bay Ridge

Conservative leader says minimum wage doesn’t add up

April 6, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The new $15 an hour minimum wage is “going to lose jobs for young people,” Mike Long (left) predicts. Long is pictured with Brooklyn Conservative party Chairman Jerry Kassar. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas
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The state’s new minimum wage law, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, will create enormous problems for business owners and will wind up hurting low-wage workers rather than helping them, according to New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long.

“It’s going to lose jobs for young people,” said Long, who called the new minimum wage law “a penalty on businesses.”

As a result of the bill passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Cuomo, New York City’s minimum wage will increase from the current level, $9 an hour, to $15 an hour by December 31, 2018. Small businesses with 10 or fewer employees will have until December of 2019 to start paying the new wage.

Long said he objects to a blanket law that all business owners are being forced to follow. “When government passes laws that are one-size-fits-all, it’s a big mistake. Every business is not in the same condition. Some businesses are always doing great, while others struggle. You can’t keep imposing regulations on all businesses as if they’re all the same,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday.

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Long is a former small business owner. For many years, he owned Long’s Wines and Liquors on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge. He sold the store several years ago.

The Conservative Party’s headquarters is located in Bay Ridge.

In order to pay the new $15 an hour rate, many owners of small businesses “are going to be forced to make some difficult economic decisions,” Long predicted. “If someone has 12 employees, they might feel they have to bring it down to nine to be able to afford to stay in business.”

Long cited a study by the Empire Center for Public Policy which estimated that the new minimum wage law will cost 200,000 jobs in New York state.

Prior to the legislature’s vote, the Conservative Party started an online petition drive and campaigned heavily against raising the minimum wage, not because party members don’t care about the working poor, but because members are firm in their belief that the minimum wage hasn’t done a thing to lift people out of poverty, Long said.

“The minimum wage wasn’t created to be a prevailing wage for a full-time worker,” he said, adding that the idea behind the minimum wage was to give a teenager or young person a leg up when they get that first part-time, after-school job.

A better way to create jobs and provide better pay for workers is for government to get rid of excessive taxes and regulations on businesses, according to Long. Such a move would foster economic stability and would lead to job growth, he said.

If business owners were freed from having to pay extravagant taxes and regulation fees, they would be able to put that money into growing their businesses and hiring workers, Long said.

But the Conservative Party lost the argument in the Legislature.

Cuomo stated when he signed the bill that raising the minimum wage and instituting the Paid Family Leave Act, which the Legislature also passed, will move the state forward toward greater economic justice.

“These policies will not only lift up the current generation of low-wage workers and their families, but ensure fairness for future generations and enable them to climb the ladder of opportunity. I am proud to sign these programs into law, because they will ensure a stronger, fairer and brighter future for all New Yorkers,” the governor stated.

The new minimum wage was part of the $150 billion state budget approved by the Legislature last week.

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