Paid sick leave law would harm businesses, not-for-profits, and consumers

To the Editor:

Be concerned about an Albany County Legislature proposal that would harm businesses, not-for-profits, and consumers. It would mandate the number of paid sick leave days every private or not-for-profit employer would have to provide. It would even mandate paid sick leave for part-time employees.

Paid sick leave is a good thing. That’s not what this debate is about. It’s about the government dictating to employers what their benefit package must be. The mandate does not even consider what other benefits the employer provides and turns a blind eye to the financial circumstances involved. It would harm not-for-profits who often care for our most vulnerable.

A public hearing underscored the frustration and fear the plan has created. One small restaurant owner, an African-American entrepreneur, said that 10 years ago she might have been for this but, after running her own business for six years, it has opened her eyes. Danielle Davis said the plan is “an attack on the restaurant industry” and could “put me out of business.”

Capital Region Chamber President Mark Eagan said jobs and the Albany County economy would be “put in jeopardy” and the law would result in “higher costs for consumers” and “sales tax revenue would decrease.”

A Guilderland bookstore owner, Susan Novotny, said regulations are already a huge burden. She’s just trying to “keep open as long as I can” and this law would be devastating. The frustrated owner of Orchard Creek’s golf course put it bluntly: “We can’t take much more of this.”

The owner of well-known area ice-cream stand and skating rink calls the law a “frightening piece of legislation and a job killer.” He employs about 100 teenagers part-time and all of them would become eligible for paid sick leave.

One of the region’s largest developers, David Buicko of Galesi Group, wrote in a letter that Albany County businesses will have no choice “but to reduce their workforce and/or pass on the cost to consumers.”

Not-for-profits get stung just as badly as businesses. The YMCA chief executive officer for the entire region, David Brown, said the mandate will cost the YMCA $500,000 in Albany County alone and would likely require the YMCA to offer the same benefit to its employees in other counties. It is a “huge problem for us,” he said.

The head of an Albany homeless shelter struggling already to serve 450 homeless people said, “We cannot take another hit.” This is just a sampling of what we have heard.

Sales tax generated by business activity amounts to about $270 million a year in Albany County. That’s three times what the total property tax levy is. The county should be doing all it can to help businesses grow, not placing more burdens on them.

This proposal could pass, unless you speak up. Google “Albany County Legislators” to find your legislator’s contact information. If you don’t know who your legislator is, call the Albany County Board of Elections.

Do not believe for a second you have “no say” in government. You have “no say” if you don’t speak up. That’s a choice.

Mark Grimm

Albany County Legislator

representing part of Guilderland

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