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Politics and Government

Upstate business group wants tax cuts, but no minimum wage hike in 2016

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While workers rallied earlier this year in New York City for a higher minimum wage, businesses say that would cause them to lay off workers.

An upstate business group is seeking tax cuts for small businesses in the new year, and are opposing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla says while portions of  the economy have improved somewhat, including the Albany and Buffalo regions, wide swaths of the Southern Tier, North Country, and Mohawk Valley continue to stagnate, and have lost jobs.

“We’ve seen some incremental improvement in the upstate economy over the last several years,” said Biryla. “But we have to stop defining success by less failure.”

The group wants a 10 percent reduction in the personal income tax, which many businesses that gross less than half a billion dollars a year pay instead of corporate taxes. And he says employers with less than 100 workers should get a 10 percent tax exemption.

But most of all, Biryla says the group wants to make sure some things don’t happen, like Cuomo’s proposal to phase in a minimum wage hike to $15 an hour. He says small businesses won’t be able to absorb the costs.

“I like to turn to the old Hippocratic oath for doctors, ‘at first, do no harm,’” said Biryla. “Unfortunately there are a lot of proposals out there that would do a great deal of harm.”

The group is also concerned over proposals to weaken the state’s property tax cap, and wants it to stay as it is, and be made permanent.  

Unshackle Upstate says one way to grow jobs quickly is for Cuomo to reconsider his one-year-old ban on hydrofracking for natural gas.