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The Times
  • Business, education dominate discussion at Chamber event

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  • LITTLE FALLS — Business and education dominated the conversation at the Business 2 Business Legislative Breakfast at the Knights Inn of Little Falls on Thursday.
    The effects of taxes, the minimum wage increase, workers’ compensation and Obamacare on businesses were among some of the issues that came up during the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce sponsored event.
    “Eighty percent of the general public is in favor of a minimum wage increase,” said state Sen. Hugh J. Farley, R-Schenectady. “But this can be an increasing hardship on small businesses, especially those already on the edge.”
    Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, added, “I don’t support an increase [of minimum wage] because of its effect on small businesses.”
    Farley also noted, “It’s kind of discouraging, but New York state is the highest taxed state in the nation … I would’ve have been OK with tenth or fifth place, but number one is not good.”
    The effect of the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, also came up during the event, particularly how it has put a strain on small businesses since its implementation. Mary Morse, owner of Kwik-Kut Manufacturing in Mohawk, appeared during a hearing in Albany in January and spoke about how she had to cut health insurance for her employees because of the act. She asked state Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta, during the breakfast if there’s been any update since the hearing.
    “We’re continuing to search for the answer there,” said Seward. “The coverage is less than they had before, but more than what they were paying. They need to develop a health insurance product that meets the needs in an affordable way.”
    Farley talked about how Obamacare has affected his son-in-law’s furniture factory in Maine.
    “He doesn’t dare go above 50 employees because of Obamacare,” he said. “Small businesses can’t expand. They’re paying everyone to work overtime and that’s a tragedy. It really is a burden on small business.”
    In education, the concerns included the affordability of a college education, the gap elimination adjustment for school aid and the implementation of the Common Core standards.
    After telling a story about how his seven-year-old granddaughter is learning about comparative religions, Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, said, “some of the Common Core material is not age appropriate.”
    He also talked about the impact the GEA has had on local school districts and how there is a push to eliminate it.
    “It’ll be a multi-year process before we phase that out,” he said.
    Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica, addressed business and education. He said during a visit to CTM Corporation in Frankfort he noticed their “We’re hiring” sign. He said after asking about it, he was told the problem is they can’t find qualified people to fill the positions.
    Page 2 of 2 - Brindisi spoke about his push for a career and technical education diploma in the state that would help train students graduating from high school to have the skills needed to fill such positions.
    “It just kills me that someone said they have 10 people they could hire with good paying jobs, but can’t because they can’t find the skilled workers,” he said
    The legislative breakfast is conducted annually by the Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce to allow members and nonmembers the opportunity to meet and talk with their legislators about their concerns.
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