Let’s face it, we all get how things work in Albany. It’s the art of the deal. You need this and I want that, so let’s see what we can do to make everyone happy. Is it the best way to go about the business of governing? Perhaps not, but it is what it is.

Frankly, if two years of on-time budgets that actually decrease spending, a property tax cap and significant pension reform have been the result of compromise, I can’t argue that the process is working. But there are times when there’s just too much at stake. During the remaining weeks of session, an important issue will be on the table and ultimately carved up so that the end result demonstrates “compromise” on both sides of the aisle. This is the debate on minimum wage.

Yesterday, Unshackle and several of its partner organizations gathered to represent the interests of small businesses across the state. We were there too. Small Business Day has traditionally been one of the most important initiatives for the Chamber as more than eighty percent of our members are small businesses. We say this all the time, but it remains true – small business is the lifeblood of our organization and the success of small business results in thriving local economies.

As we walked the halls to meet with members yesterday, we emphasized the impact that a wage increase would have on small business. They seemed to get it, but they also recognize that Albany is open to debate on this issue. So as legislators look for that ultimate compromise – here are just a few things to consider:

– The proposed wage increase from $7.25 to $8.50 has a direct impact to small businesses of about $2,600 per full time worker. Add payroll taxes and you hit about $3,000 per worker – look for a small business that can absorb that in this economy – you won’t find one.

– Minimum wage increases often have the opposite effect of what they are intended to do – rather than bolstering the wages of low-skilled workers, wage increases could potentially push low skilled workers out of the market entirely.

– A 10% wage increase typically reduces employment of lower skilled workers by up to 2%.

– The Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania, will experience a significant competitive disadvantage . Right now NY and PA have minimum wages of $7.25, increase NY’s to $8.50 and watch the jobs go to PA – which already has lower taxes, lower workers’ comp costs, lower unemployment costs (need I go on…).

– If indexed for inflation, it will not take long for New York to earn a new and dubious title – least friendly to small business.

If New York really wants to increase wages and grow jobs, the answer is to reform the burdensome regulatory environment that prohibits the growth of small businesses. If you clean up the engine, small business will continue to drive the economy.

We appreciate the Senate’s continued recognition that a minimum wage increase is a job killer – we agree. If small businesses shut their doors, communities will shut down. At a time when New York has so much positive momentum, it would be unfortunate to see the pendulum swing in the wrong direction.