Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning) expressed concern regarding Wednesday’s meeting of the New York State Wage Board. The Wage Board voted in favor of the governor’s proposal for an hourly minimum wage increase for fast food workers that would climb to $15 per hour over the next few years.
The Wage Board’s decision is an official recommendation to the Labor Commissioner. The commissioner has final authority to increases wages in certain industries.
In a statement released late Wednesday, Palmesano noted his skepticism about this process:
“To me, this is another sign that the governor doesn’t believe in a balanced democratic process. He’s circumventing the Legislature because he didn’t get what he wanted. When you work around lawmakers, there is not debate, no discussion and no negotiation. That is not a sound way to run a government,” said Palmesano.
During this legislative session, Palmesano spoke out against the Labor Commissioner’s unilateral decision to raise wages for tipped workers. After speaking with many local restaurant owners, Palmesano introduced A.8022, legislation which would require legislative approval for any minimum wage increase. The bill would also require the Commissioner of Labor to prepare a report analyzing the increased costs imposed on businesses. Additionally, Palmesano’s legislation would limit the wage board’s ability to make recommendations to the legislature by only being able to issue a report by unanimous consent for a measure among its voting members.
“We get much better results for New Yorkers when there is compromise and discussion between both houses and the governor,” said Palmesano. “Many of my colleagues and I have real concerns about the governor’s use of the wage board as a clear way of circumventing the legislature to approve these wage increases. We want the many hard working people across this state to succeed and we want them to earn more money. However, because of these increased labor costs for the many small businesses that provide these jobs, I am very concerned that many of these jobs will vanish for people who need them the most.”
Palmesano said there were much better avenues for the governor and the Legislature to pursue that would energize the economy and raise wages in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region.
“We’ll encourage investment in our communities here if we roll back the barriers to starting and maintaining a business, like high taxes and burdensome regulations,” said Palmesano. “Economic vitality should be what raises wages, not the unilateral actions of a governor and Labor Commissioner who do not understand the trust costs and challenges associated with running a business.”