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Business leader says $15 minimum wage law a potential political reality

Minimum wage rally in New York City (file photo).

The leader of the Business Council  of New York State says her group will fight Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, but concedes that the legislation may become law soon.

Business Council President Health Briccetti says the proposed steep hike in the minimum wage would be bad for the state’s economy, and the group will be heavily engaged in opposing it. But she says she’s a political realist and her group is already looking at mitigations to insert into the bill in the event that the state legislature, under re-election pressures in 2016,  passes it into law.

“We’re looking for ways to soften the blow,” said Briccetti who says ideas include small business tax cuts and special rules for youths seeking entry-level jobs.

Though the business community has disagreed with Cuomo over the minimum wage bill and his recent executive actions raising the wage for fast food workers, Briccetti says she understand the governor has political considerations with the left of his party. And she says 80 percent of what Cuomo has done, including a property tax cap, has been good for business.

The Business Council has one more difference with Cuomo. Briccetti says her group plans on endorsing the Republican, Fred Akshar, in the special state Senate race in the Southern Tier. The seat is open after its former occupant, Tom Libous, was convicted of a felony corruption charge earlier this summer. Cuomo supports his former Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner, Democrat Barbara Fialla.

Briccetti says  the race is “critical."

“It is an extremely important race,” said Briccetti. “I think it’s probably going to be a tough race, but in our assessment it’s very important that the pro business candidate come out ahead.”

Briccetti says while her group is nonpartisan, it has an interest in keeping Republicans in control in the state Senate, and will work in the 2016 elections to keep the GOP in control. She says veteran Republican senators can better represent upstate and Long Island, than any freshmen Democrats.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.