By Andrew Wilkes
Huffington Post, June 1, 2012
Governor Cuomo has an opportunity to exercise economic leadership on behalf of the Empire State's most vulnerable families. Despite his characterizations, raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 can and should be done. According to a recent Siena College poll, 79 percent of New York State voters share this sentiment. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver champions an increased minimum wage. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos opposes it. Governor Cuomo, then, is the difference maker. Given his political capital, deal-making abilit, and high approval rating, Albany's chief executive has the leverage to get the bill passed. Mr. Cuomo has voiced public support for the wage hike, but refuses to put his weight behind the measure.
Business groups, by contrast, are mounting an increasingly visible campaign to pass the bill. Last week, the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce and Costco endorsed the minimum wage proposal. Additionally, more than 180 businesses, as a part of the coalition Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, signed a statement affirming the updated wage floor. Their support shatters the illusion that the business community uniformly views the measure as a "job-killer." Far from killing jobs, lifting the minimum wage can reduce costs associated with employee turnover and increase workforce productivity. Consider the retail sector as an example: two separate studies, one from the the Wharton School of Business and one conducted for the Coca-Cola's Retailing Research Council maintain that increasing wages has a positive effect on the production and retention of employees.
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