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250 BROADWAY NEW YORK, NY 10007
Setting the Record Straight on the Living Wage Bill
NEW YORK, NY (March 9, 2011) – The New York Post’s editorial board has it all wrong when it comes to the living wage bill. New York City spends billions of taxpayer dollars on so-called economic development, and how does it thank taxpayers? By allowing companies who benefit from these subsidies to create-low-wage jobs that keep working people mired in poverty and weaken our economy and tax base. It’s a vicious circle: taxpayers are forced to fund more of these development projects, but those projects often create more low-wage jobs, which don’t allow working people to earn adequate income so they turn back to government—to taxpayers—for more public assistance. No wonder a record number of working New Yorkers—nearly 1 in 4—are currently relying on food stamps just to be able to eat. Contrary to what the Post argues, many of these people are adults working in low-wage sectors like retail and trying to support families. The latest data show that retail workers contribute 60% of their families' earned income and 36% of retail workers are their family's sole provider. In all likelihood, adults are not supporting their families with one minimum wage job, but several. We are talking about real people who work two and three jobs just to scrape by. The status quo is not fiscal responsibility by any measure; it’s fiscal insanity. The living wage bill would put a stop to it. Indeed, this pragmatic legislation would ensure that taxpayer dollars are invested in good jobs that strengthen our economy and tax base. It would establish a modest living wage standard for jobs created through taxpayer-provided subsidies. From Los Angeles to Baltimore, cities around the country have enacted similar laws and there is no evidence anywhere that business growth or job growth has been harmed as a result. Developers and companies continue to reap large profits even as working people are lifted out of poverty. So businesses don’t flee: they stay where they are. We have every reason to expect the same thing will happen right here in New York City. Taxpayers have been paying too high a price for economic development for too long. They expect and deserve a better return on their investment. This bill would provide just that.
Melissa Mark-Viverito Co-Chair, Progressive Caucus 8th Council District
Brad Lander Co-Chair, Progressive Caucus 39th Council District