GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A debate is now being waged over the idea of raising the minimum wage. Advocates for the poor say it’s desperately needed, but some small business owners believe doing so could put them under.
Diana Williams recently opened a restaurant in Williston Park — and now already fears her menu prices will have to go up. She said she may have to layoff employees, even serve up smaller portions. Monthly overhead is growing and so are gas prices along her 30-mile commute.
“Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50, would really put a damper on our business,” Williams told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan on Tuesday.
Matthew Dennin said he commutes to his minimum wage job on bicycle, adding people who work full-time should not be poor.
“I could get off food stamps. My mom helps me out with money. She is getting older, and I could be more independent,” Dennin said.
A million or so New Yorkers make $7.25 an hour. Albany Democrats want that increased to $8.50 and are poised to push through a 17-percent hike, translating to about $17,000 a year.
Mitchell Golub owns delivery vans. He predicted that minimum wage increases would throw a huge roadblock in the path of local economic recovery.
“What are we supposed to do? Go out of business? Gas goes up, food costs go up,” Golub said.
There’s insurance for workers, Social Security, taxes and workers comp costs to be paid. McLogan asked Hofstra University expert Lawrence Levy about the chances for a minimum wage hike.
“For all the talk in Albany about Republicans and Democrats working together, this is an issue that is most certainly going to keep them apart. If somehow you get the bill through the Republican Senate, then it’s up to Andrew Cuomo,” Levy said.
And will the governor choose to back his party — or go with the Republicans to burnish his conservative credentials? McLogan asked, but he didn’t answer.
In the past, Gov. Cuomo has said he favors a minimum wage hike. On Tuesday night a spokesman told McLogan the governor is still reviewing this bill’s specifics.
What do you think Albany should decide? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …