Do more than the bare minimum on wages
New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales hit Hauppauge last week to outline Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to increase the state minimum wage from $8.75 to $10.50.
In his pitch, Perales projected a rippling economic impact that could potentially give 150,000 workers a pay raise and bring $382.3 million in value to Long Island. While this newspaper supports the notion of empowering our low-income earners with higher minimum wages, we still only see it as a one-dimensional, short-term fix that does not address the bigger issues of affordability.
Raising the minimum wage is a risky move that could end up hurting us in the long run if not done in conjunction with other means to address inflation and making New York — and Long Island — more affordable and livable. Long Island has already been struggling to prevent its young people from relocating because of its lack of affordable living options, and raising wages could consequently end up bringing the cost of living even higher for those still hanging on.
It’s already hard enough to live on Long Island as rents continue to skyrocket and costs continue to increase. That’s why we need a multi-pronged approach to coincide with the established proposal to raise the state minimum wage, which has increased a total $4.50 since 1991.
There are plenty of pros to raising the minimum wage, and Perales outlined key points during his Hauppauge visit — he said the number of workers on Long Island earning minimum wage would jump from the current 85,264 to 202,248.
But the state must not ignore the cons that come with such a move, including the potential layoffs at Long Island’s small businesses lining the main streets of our communities.
Our leaders too often put short-term patches on long-term wounds. Those immediate fixes serve a purpose, but we should be looking at the bigger picture.