Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 an hour has been criticized by some business groups, including Unshackle Upstate.
Greg Biryla, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, said Tuesday that Cuomo's campaign to raise the minimum wage "could push struggling small businesses over the edge."
"For employers who are trying to create new jobs and expand their business, another minimum wage increase and an added $69 million in new health care taxes would be a brutal combination," Biryla said. "Albany needs to focus on improving the state's business climate — not make it more toxic."
Biryla's comments came after Cuomo held an event in Buffalo Tuesday morning to announce the launch of the "Fight For Fair Pay" campaign, which aims to build support for the minimum wage hike.
Cuomo's proposal, which was first unveiled in January, would raise the minimum wage statewide and set a new tier for New York City. Under the plan, New York City's minimum wage would be $11.50 an hour.
According to Cuomo's office, there are more than 594,000 minimum wage workers in New York. Raising the minimum wage, Cuomo said, will help lift more than 100,000 New Yorkers out of poverty.
"We will restore thousands of New Yorkers with the pride and dignity of being able to sustain themselves," Cuomo said in Buffalo.
Cuomo said raising the minimum wage would be good for business because past wage hikes have helped increase the size of the economy.
"We'll actually stimulate our economic recovery by raising the minimum wage," he said.
The minimum wage increase will be a major issue during state budget negotiations. State leaders reached an agreement two years ago on a phased-in minimum wage increase. The first hike, in 2013, raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8 an hour.
At the end of 2014, the minimum wage increased to $8.75 an hour. It is scheduled to rise to $9 an hour at the end of this year.