If you're living on Long Island (or is it "in Long Island"? That's still up for debate), you may possibly be a business owner. Those who have been paying attention to the news may be a little uneasy about a proposal from the governor. The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, has put forth an initiative to raise the minimum wage in New York State. Long Island business owners have found themselves unhappy with that news.
Governor Kathy Hochul's proposal would see the minimum wage in New York raised to $16 an hour. Some areas may see the minimum wage set at $17 an hour. The current minimum wage in New York State is $14.20. For reference, the national minimum wage is only $7.25. The current minimum wage in New York is almost double the national minimum wage, and yet a potential raise has Long Island business owners concerned about their ability to stay afloat. An additional part of Governor Kathy Hochul's plan would be to connect the minimum wage to the consumer price index by the year 2027. That would cause the minimum wage in the state to steadily increase as the years would pass.
News 12, a mainstay in Long Island news, went out into the community to speak with local business owners about this proposed plan. They told News 12 that the plan put them in a bit of a dilemma. They understood the need for workers to have higher wages and support their families, but having that increase factored into their expenses could potentially cause them some difficulty.
Harry Cohen, from The Chocolate Duck in Farmingdale, was one of the first to speak with News 12. He says, "If it goes up to $17 that means my overhead is going to go up and my landlord doesn't want to know I can't pay the rent...PSEG doesn't want to know I can't pay the electric."
Cohen wasn't the only business owner to express concerns over this proposed plan. Other business owners who were interviewed expressed fear that their business - and other businesses - would go out of business if the plan were to go through. Martin Cantor, an economic development consultant, weighed in on the potential ramifications of the plan. Interestingly, he frames it as a "one-or-the-other" type of outcome. According to Cantor, while the plan would most likely deal a significant blow to small businesses in the New York suburb, it would be a massive benefit for workers who live off of minimum wage salaries.
"We have people who [work] in Long Island who need an increase in [the] minimum wage because rents are so high, property taxes are so high," Martin Cantor says. He then goes on to implicate the state government (Governor Hochul herself) in the blow to small business owners. He says: The governor chose to, in effect, tax small businesses and tax consumers by increasing the minimum wage. With the potential addition of connecting the minimum wage to the consumer price index, Cantor says that the minimum wage could go up to nearly $20 an hour in just a few years.
Should Governor Hochul's proposal go through, it would immediately bring the minimum wage to $16 an hour by the year 2026.