NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — As the New York City Council prepares to debate living wages, Comptroller John Liu and several Council members joined clergy, community leaders and residents to demand passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports.

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The legislation would use taxpayer subsidies to expand living wage jobs. The City Council scheduled a public hearing for Thursday afternoon.

Living wages mean $10 an hour with benefits, or $11.50 without benefits.

Small business owners warned the bill would kill jobs and discourage economic growth.

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“What retailer in their right mind is going to agree to sign leases in a place where they have to pay their employees 50 percent more than the minimum wage and the people down the block,” said Jack Friedman of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, said, “In city after city wherever wage mandates have been tried, the very people who are supposed to be at benefit are hurt the most.”

Councilman Oliver Koppell says the fears of the business community are ill-founded.

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“What we’re doing right now is we’re building projects where people can jobs that can support their families,” said  Koppell. “This is not a threat to economic development. It is a real attempt to make legitimate decent jobs available.”