KENMORE, N.Y. (WIVB) - New York's newly passed budget includes a higher minimum wage and tax credits to help cover what employers spend on it.
Minimum wage in New York State is rising gradually over the next three years, eventually capping at $9 an hour in 2016. The state is offering tax credits to business owners who hire teenagers, to fill their minimum wage positions.
But the credits are only available for workers from 16- to 19-years-old, who are still in school, and are hired as seasonal help.
Bob Bolt, owner of Mike's Subs in Kenmore, said, "I can't take advantage of the tax credit, because I don't hire seasonal employees. I'm open year-round."
Some people worry business owners will react to the tax credits by simply not hiring adults.
Bolt says raising minimum wage probably will change his hiring practices in the exact opposite way.
"We might take a lower-tiered employee, who isn't quite as skilled, and we say 'Nine bucks an hour?' Maybe we let that person go, and we try to get somebody a little better for $9 an hour. So it could cut out some lower-skilled people," Bolt said.
Just Pizza General Manager Joe Luzio said, "Usually, when you come out of or you're in high school, you have no experience. And for a restaurant that is as busy as we are to hire people without experience and start them off at such a high rate, might be a little tricky."
That extra money, though, has to come from somewhere.
Bolt acknowledged, "I'm going to have to raise prices. The price of an average sub is going to go up 20, 30 cents. And that's going to impact every customer that walks in."
New York's minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. The increases will be phased in over a three-year period, rising to $8 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015 and $9 in 2016.
"The fact that it's a gradual increase is helpful. That means I don't have to put up my prices super fast. I can phase my prices up a little bit, and the shock won't be so bad. Because I don't want to lose business," Bolt said.
"It's bad enough when food costs go up dramatically in Buffalo, like they do seasonally [and] sometimes the customer has to pay for it. We'll absorb that cost," Just Pizza's Luzio said, "maybe myself and a couple of the people that've been here longer will pick up some of the hours and pick up the slack."
Luzio and Bolt agree, it's right to pay workers, particularly students, a decent wage.
"It's more money in the economy, it's more money for the younger kids coming up that need work... It's money they need to get by," Luzio said.
But Bolt, especially, questions the wisdom of the state dictating the rate.
Bolt said, "I'd rather see the free enterprise system regulate minimum wage."
Taxpayers will pay a share toward minimum wage increase. Once it reaches $9 an hour, for example, one estimate has employers would pay 40 cents of the difference, and taxpayers the remaining $1.35.
Police say they had the wrong man, and that Jerome Thagard, who spent four years in prison, didn't murder Steven Northrup in 2009. But the victim's family says otherwise.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
It was so treacherous in North Collins, the mayor had to issue a travel ban, and village snow plows were pulled off the roadways to keep drivers from trying to plow in zero visibility.
The Buffalo School Board unanimously approved plans to transform Burgard High School into a Manufacturing Magnet School on Wednesday,
Investigators are making progress in the case of a Chihuahua thrown in a ditch while zipped up in a Coors Light thermal bag.