If Gov. Andrew Cuomo is truly intent on reversing New York's reputation as being unfriendly to business, he's sure going about it the wrong way with his push for the nation's highest minimum wage and its most generous family leave act.
New York does need to have some kind of minimum wage, just to prevent businesses from offering literal slave wages to those who must take whatever job they can get. But that's just what it should be — a safety net, not a trampoline.
Why does New York's minimum wage have to be the highest in the country?
The $15 minimum wage being pushed by the governor is more than a minimum. It's $31,200 a year. It won't make anyone rich, but it's certainly a decent pay base for every single private-sector job in the state.
If every employer in the state is forced to pay every full-time worker at least $31,200 a year, companies — particularly smaller companies — will hire fewer employees, certainly fewer full-time employees. They also may be forced to charge higher prices to consumers and invest less into operation and expansion.
How does that help boost business in New York state?
On the issue of family leave, New York does need some kind of family leave benefit, just to prevent companies from firing employees who are forced to care for newborns, elderly family members or others in need of long-term care.
But like the $15 minimum wage, why does New York always have to have the Cadillac plan?
The federal government already protects workers' jobs through a 12-week unpaid family leave act. The governor is pushing a bill would require all private employers to offer 12 weeks of paid family leave, for which workers would become eligible after only four weeks on the job. The federal law requires an employee be on the job a full year before becoming eligible for the benefit.
According to the Rochester Business Journal, the 12-week paid leave is twice as long as California’s and New Jersey’s and three times as long as Rhode Island, the three most generous states for family leave.
Even though the time off would be funded through a payroll deduction, it won't come free to businesses.
Again, small businesses in particular would be hurt by the increased costs of administration, hiring replacement workers and paying overtime, other unforeseen expenses, and through losing key employees for a full three months.
Requiring the nation's highest minimum wage and most generous paid family leave package will certainly affect New York's reputation as a friendly place to do business — It will make its reputation worse.
The governor and state lawmakers should be doing all they can to attract businesses, not inventing new reasons for them not to come here or stay here.
Being the most generous state in the nation on family leave and minimum wage will help some individuals. But the companies that employ those individuals might very well be forced to do business in another state.
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