Business owners getting ready for minimum wage increase

A new year brings a new minimum wage in New York State. On Sunday, the general minimum wage will increase from $9.70 an hour to $10.40 an hour.

Andrew Cuomo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a rally after the New York Wage Board endorsed a proposal to set a $15 minimum wage for workers at fast-food restaurants with 30 or more locations, Wednesday, July 22, 2015 in New York. The increase would be phased in over three years in New York City and over six years elsewhere. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A new year brings a new minimum wage in New York State. On Sunday, the general minimum wage will increase from $9.70 an hour to $10.40 an hour. It’s part of an eventual increase to $15 an hour, which is something many small business owners have been against. But one state lawmaker says there may be a way to slow, or even stop the increase in the future.

“It’s like a big money grab for New York State, because they’re increasing my payroll,” said Mark Marotto, who owns Marotto’s Restaurant in Tonawanda. “I’m paying more taxes on that payroll.

Part of Marotto’s job right now is to look at the books, and figure out who he’ll pay his non-tipped staff $10.40 an hour on Sunday. The minimum wage is scheduled to go up again at the end of 2018, to $11.10, at the end of 2019, to $11.80, and at the end of 2020, to $12.50. It will then go up to $15 an hour at a time to be determined by the New York State Department of Labor.

“I have dishwashers,” said Marotto. “They’re all 17, 18 year old high school kids. If you throw more money at them, they don’t necessarily do more work. That’s a problem.”

Marotto prefers a tiered wage, where workers earn more money based on how long they’ve been employed.

Prish Moran feels differently. She’s “100 percent supportive” of a $15 minimum wage. She owns Sweet_ness 7 Cafe on Grant Street in Buffalo. Moran says she already pays her workers a higher wage.

“Not only for my own knowledge of the cost of living,” she explained, “but these kids are my life, my family that work here. They have families, some of them. I couldn’t imagine how you could live on less than $15 an hour.”

But State Senator Patrick Gallivan thinks it hurts too many small business owners. He’s hopeful the wage increases will stop.

“At the end of (2018), essentially built into the law when it was passed is a pause, a requirement that an economic analysis is done,” said Gallivan, who represents the state’s 59th senate district. “I would hope that when it shows the truth and the problem that this creates, it’s listened to and we stop the increase in the minimum wage at that time.”

Gallivan, ironically, voted for the minimum wage increase, saying he only did so to slow the increases in Upstate New York.

 

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