March 01, 2013 at 15:09 PM EST
Editorial: Beware pols bearing gifts
Take solace, businesspeople. Help is on the way. A bevy of benevolent mayoral candidates are pledging to make your lives oh so much better. They're going to get government off your backs. They'll lower your fines, freeze your taxes and fees, fast-track your permits. They'll hire thousands more police officers and provide iPads for all the little children, and it won't cost you a dime. So many wonderful things! For the next eight months, business folks and other voters had better keep their rhetoric radar fully operational. We don't doubt that the candidates want to help entrepreneurs. But some leading candidates also want to dictate how businesses operate, even though they have no experience operating one themselves. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is actively courting small business support by focusing on the nuisance fines that drive them bananas. That is appreciated, but at the same time he is pushing to make them provide paid time off for employees who are sick. Or have a sick family member. Or a friend with the sniffles. Maybe even a pet with separation anxiety. The sick-days plan and Council Speaker Christine Quinn's novel proposal to expand the anti-discrimination rights of the jobless would subject businesses to lawsuits by disgruntled and even potential employees. The city needs growth in cottage industries, but not the one in which lawyers bully businesses into costly settlements. City Comptroller John Liu wants to stop subsidizing individual business projects and use that savings to lower business taxes across the board. Spreading that relatively small pot of money across the entire business landscape would dilute it to the point of irrelevance while leaving the city powerless to jump-start economic development in industries and neighborhoods where it's needed most. Meanwhile, Mr. Liu wants to raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour, an increase of 59%. His office has been relentless in regulating "prevailing wage" rules to force businesses to pay ever higher amounts. He supports the paid-sick-day mandate and just about any pro-worker idea hatched by the Working Families Party. He defends—even champions—the ever-spiraling public pension benefits that now cost taxpayers about $8 billion more annually than when Mr. Liu was first elected. Some fiduciary, he. Voters will make decisions this summer and fall that will affect them for the next four years, if not longer. They must pay close attention to make sure the candidates are not extending one arm to shake the business community's hand while using the other to stab it in the back.
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