Last Thursday, Gov. Cuomo announced that announced that he will work to raise the minimum wage in New York to $15 an hour. He was joined by Vice President Joe Biden at the labor-style event in Manhattan. The Governor said that he will seek to have the state’s minimum wage increased over time, reaching $15 per hour in New York City in 2019 and in the rest of the state in July 2021.

You can read our response here.

The Governor’s move is change from his prior position, when he said that a $15 per hour minimum wage was “too high” and proposed an increase to $10.50. If the state does increase its minimum wage to $15 per hour, it will be the first state in the nation to do so.

Also last week, the state’s Acting Labor Commissioner has signed a wage order that will increase wages for fast food workers throughout the state.

These are troubling developments. The Governor’s call for a $15 minimum wage statewide is a huge step backwards for the Upstate economy. The businesses, non-profits and local governments of Upstate New York – who are working hard to recover from a half century of job and population loss – just cannot afford a 67 percent increase for their low wage workers.

New York State is already considered one of the worst states in the nation in which to do business; this new wage mandates will only make our situation worse. We need Albany to put in place policies that will improve the ability of businesses to create new jobs, not more reasons to leave New York for economic opportunities elsewhere.

We are obviously going to be working against this new wage mandate when it comes up in Albany 2016. We will urge lawmakers to heed the call for relief from state mandates, not put new ones in place. But with state legislators facing re-election in November 2016, we are going to have quite a challenge on our hands.