RAISE THE WAGE: critics overstate job loss

by Allyson Fredrickson, Alliance for a Just Society

The Congressional Budget Office released a report on the estimated effects of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to inflation by 2016.


Opponents of the increase have jumped on the report’s (questionable) conclusion that it would cost jobs, while many in favor of increasing the minimum wage have focused on the benefits, including lifting almost one million workers out of poverty.

However, even a minimum wage of $10.10 doesn’t come close to reaching a living wage that allows workers to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Our 15th annual Job Gap study, America’s Changing Economy, clearly shows that $15 – $16 per hour is the minimum pay needed to support a single adult working full time.

Here's seven reasons not to let the CBO report discourage Congress from increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10, and why we actually need an even higher minimum wage:

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PRESS RELEASE: Budget Agreement is a Missed Opportunity That Should Have Closed Tax Loopholes

Community Business Association, state partner of Americans for Tax Fairness, joins a coalition of Florida consumer and faith-based organizations to deliver a letter to Senator Bill Nelson Thursday voicing disappointment in the proposed budget deal, and advocating for further consideration of the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act. Florida Consumer Action Network, American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees, Florida AFL-CIO, Florida Council of Churches, and PICO are delivering similar messages throughout Florida.

“Once again, this Congress has prioritized Wall Street at the expense of Main Street,” said Brook Hines, Director for Community Business Association.

“This deal protects corporate abuse of offshore tax havens while penalizing federal employees’ wages and pensions. Worse, Wall Street hedge fund managers will continue to enjoy special tax breaks while we’re canceling unemployment insurance for the millions of Americans losing benefits a week after Christmas. As these actions hurt the pocketbooks of consumers this is a bad deal for small business and the consumer demand they depend on,” said Hines. 

Fifteen local businesses signed-on to the letter which urges Sen. Nelson to sign-on to the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (S. 1533). A similar bill in the House, called Sequester Delay and Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (HR. 3666) has also been filed. Both bills would raise up to $220 billion over 10 years – enough to fully replace the automatic spending cuts scheduled for the next two-and-a-half years.

Local small business leader Fred Barr is disappointed that Congress failed to close even one wasteful corporate tax loophole. “Many politicians like to say they want to run government like a business. Let me tell you, if you’re not raising revenue, you’re not running a business for long,” said the owner of Barr Creative Services. “Small business owners like myself know we must raise revenue toinvest for growth. We know the tradeoffs here. It’s madness to just give away money in the form of tax breaks while so many necessary investments have gone un-done for so long.” 

Recent polling by Hart Research Associates demonstrates that the public would have been in favor of including such tax measures in the budget agreement. By 50% to 34%, voters want to “cancel the [$110 billion in] spending cuts and replace them with new tax revenue from the wealthy and corporations,” rather than “Allow the full spending cuts to take effect.”

According to a report released by the Economic Policy Institute and AFSCME, closing tax loopholes would create 12,915 jobs in Florida through 2016. With revenues relative to historical levels, these loopholes send the wrong message while presenting opportunities for tax evasion, and creating perverse incentives for overleveraging, offshoring of corporate profits.

“Is this budget deal a step in the right direction?” said Hines, “Yes, it’s better than nothing. It scales back the automatic cuts that would have been painful for Floridians, and protects Social Security. But the agreement would be far better if it closed tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy. The American people strongly support such measures and Congress needs to act.”

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PRESS RELEASE: no Medicaid expansion is killing entrepreneurship in Florida

CBA Director tells legislative delegation that refusal to expand Medicaid hurts emerging small biz and entrepreneurs experiencing “job lock”

CLICK HERE for report on Medicaid job creation in Florida

Orlando, FL– Community Business Association is expanding on the message that Medicaid expansion would grow jobs in Florida. At the Orange County Legislative Delegation and public meeting on the ACA and Medicaid Expansion the Director of Community Business Association, Brook Hines said: Partisans refusing to expand Medicaid in Florida are killing entrepreneurship in Florida.

An article published in the New York Times on Sunday tells a familiar story: entrepreneurs are waiting to start new businesses until they have reliable health care for themselves and their families. Medicaid expansion is key to helping entrepreneurs make the jump because almost all new ventures are self-funded in the start-up phase, and sometimes barely making ends meet for year.

“Medicaid in Florida is not available to single adults,” said Hines. “The federal money provided for states to expand Medicaid was meant to fix this problem. Right now we have would-be small business owners who are unable to make the leap to entrepreneurship because they can’t afford to lose their health insurance, and new businesses oftent don’t see enough revenue in the start-up phase to qualify for cost-sharing under the formula for ACA which is 138 percent of the poverty level.”

“This means that would-be entrepreneurs with a chronic health conditions, or who have children suffering from a chronic disease such as diabetes, are locked into working for larger companies for fear that a medical emergency will lead to a medical bankruptcy, which is the number-one cause of bankruptcies in the United States.”

Business owners like CBA member Fred Barr have a personal and professional stake in seeing an expanded program, “Consumers feel more comfortable spending in a stable environment. Medicaid provides that stability, and an expanded program will allow independent business owners and their employees the personal security they need to thrive and grow.”

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CBA member provides expert testimony on public health for sick time task force


Owner of Food Health & Environmental Safety and Community Business Association member Ricardo McQueen testified as a public health expert and small business owner at the November 19, 2013 meeting of the "Employer-Sponsored Benefits Study Task Force" which was formed by law in the legislation that preempted earned sick time. 

This was the second panel convened to examine issues surrounding earned sick time. The first panel presented testimony against the measure. On November 19 the Tallahassee task force heard from supporters of sick time. Mr. McQueen's full testimony is below the fold. 

The full slate of panelists presenting in favor of earned sick time included:

Carol Weissert, Ph.D., Director, LeRoy Collins Institute, Florida State University
Ricardo McQueen, Owner, Food, Health & Environmental Safety, Corp.
Gloria Lewis, Restaurant Employee, Restaurant Opportunities Center
Eileen Applebaum, Ph.D., Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Rich Templin, Ph.D., Legislative and Political Director, Florida AFL-CIO
Cynthia S Hernandez, Senior Research Associate, Instructor, & Director of Internship Programs, Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy Center for Labor Research & Studies Florida International University



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CBO study shows immigration reform will boost economy

CBO score on Gang of 8’s Immigration Bill would decrease national deficit by $197 bn

Study Shows Bipartisan Senate Immigration Bill Will Boost Florida’s Economy

Over 10-year period, Florida to receive $3 billion in taxpayer revenue, increase in
new jobs once millions earn pathway to citizenship

Highlights of Tuesday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projection on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, if enacted:

  • Decrease the federal deficit by $197 billion over the next 10-year period
  • In a 20-year outlook, it is estimated that comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship would further decrease the federal deficit by another $700 billion by 2033
  • Eight million people would become citizens under the new law

ORLANDO, FL—As Congress takes steps to address the country’s broken immigration system, analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that the Senate’s bipartisan solution would yield high returns for local and state economies. Increased tax contributions from aspiring Americans under the new law would add $3 billion to Florida’s budget over 10 years, making more resources available for schools, infrastructure, and local services.

"What this shows is what we've been saying all along: that new Americans will contribute more in taxes than will be taken in benefits,” said Brook Hines, director of Community Business Association of Central Florida. “In addition to being the right thing to do, immigration reform reduces our deficit and provides a badly needed boost to our local economies. It's a win-win."

Immigration reform that puts immigrants on a path to citizenship will strengthen the US economy by boosting wages and entrepreneurship, bringing more tax contributions and spending in small businesses in their local economies.

“According to this report Florida would add $55 billion to our gross state product,” said Troy Gage, owner of Eat More Produce in Winter Park. “This reflects jobs created by more than a half million immigrant small business owners like myself who are busy creating jobs in Florida.”

The status quo of our broken immigration system is unacceptable, both politically and economically. Analysis shows that any additional spending to implement reform would be more than offset by the increase in local and state tax coffers.

Dr. Benjamin Balak, Associate Professor of Economics
at Rollins College agrees that the status quo is unacceptable. “Why have politicians not done something like this before, despite the fact that it is such a no-brainer? The answer is that for many years, some industries in the US have benefited tremendously from keeping undocumented immigrants desperate to work for cheap under terrible conditions,” Balak says.

“In fact there are entire industries that depend on this situation to generate high profits for a very small section of the population who own companies that employ undocumented immigrants. The massive savings and fiscal benefits that this new legislation generates would benefit the entire population of the state, especially in hard economic times such as these.”

“We can’t afford for our elected leaders to delay immigration reform any further when our communities need the increased revenue to improve our roads, our schools, and our public safety,” said Gage.

Enforcement-only policies are costly and inefficient. According to a study by the Immigration Policy Center, it showed that “a mass deportation and zero-immigration policy would decrease U.S. GDP by $2.6 trillion over 10 years.”

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Support businesses supporting immigration reform

We've been meeting lots of new business owners and asking for their support by
displaying our Roadmap To Citizenship poster in their business.

So far nearly 150 businesses are participating in the poster campaign.

Here's just three great small businesses to look for when you're out and about.
Please show YOUR support for them by stopping in!

From left to right:
Dong-A-Market (this is my new go-to Asian market), 812 N Mills Ave
Mediterranean Deli & Gyros (awesom-est gyros in UCF area! maybe best in town), 9430 East Colonial Dr
India Market (looking for amazing Chai tea? this is the place), 10018 University Blvd


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NEW VIDEO: No sick days means more Sneezer Salads

Gov. Scott bows to corporate pressure, signs preemption bill – sick time advocates vow to fight on
Law violates home rule, hurts working families, threatens public health

HB 655 is particularly troubling because Orange County citizens are prepared for a court-ordered vote on a sick time referendum in August of 2014. Now that HB 655 has been signed into law, more than 50,000 people who signed petitions placing the first ever citizen-led referendum on the ballot in Orange County could be disenfranchised.

The new law that goes into effect July 1, violates home rule in our state’s Constitution and specifically prohibits political subdivisions from enacting ordinances or citizen led referendums regarding employment benefits such as Earned Sick Time

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NEW VIDEO: Precourt "out of touch" on local control

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CBA supporter featured in Sentinel against HB 655 /sick time preemption


Florida Chamber slams job-creation 'opponents

See full article here.

Julie Norris doesn't seem like someone trying to topple capitalism.

She works seven days a week running a small vegetarian restaurant that makes a mean chili wrap. She and her partner opened the Dandelion CommuniTea Café in 2006 with four employees. They now have 21 people working for them.

That's 21 jobs Norris has created in Orlando.

But if I'm to believe the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Norris and people like her are "opponents of job creation."

It's right there on a Chamber press release praising House Bill 655, a measure that prohibits communities from passing local ordinances requiring businesses to offer certain employee benefits.

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New poll shows overwhelming opposition to Florida politicians' power grab

Voters also strongly support earned sick time and living wage protections

Link to Public Policy Polling report: click here.

A statewide poll conducted April 5-7 by Public Policy Polling found that a vast majority of likely Florida voters strongly oppose legislative efforts to preempt cities and counties from enacting protections for workers in their own communities. The poll also showed that a majority of voters do not trust the Florida Legislature to make the right decisions for local communities.
“This is a message to politicians in Tallahassee that their constituents want them to stay out of their local affairs,” said Brook Hines, Director of the Community Business Association of Central Florida.  “What works for Miami may not work for Micanopy. We don’t need Big Government coming in and telling us how to manage our own affairs.”

The survey questioned 665 voters about local ordinances that many communities across the state are either considering or already have in place, including policies designed to protect workers against wage theft.

The survey showed:

  • 80 percent of voters support laws that would ensure workers have a right to earn sick time to care for themselves or a family member;
  • 72 percent support laws that require business with public contracts pay their workers living wages;
  • 60 percent support local governments’ rights to enact their own laws; and
  • a whopping 83 percent felt that the Florida Legislature’s attempt to deny local governments and citizens the right to vote on local laws is part of a larger effort to take away access to voting and deprive citizens of their right to vote.

State lawmakers have filed a number of bills that would preempt these kinds of ordinances and remove protections for workers that are already in place around the state.  House Bill 655, sponsored by Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, would prohibit municipalities from enacting living-wage and benefit ordinances and void such local laws already on the books.  Senate Bill 726, sponsored by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would prohibit communities from requiring employers to provide employees “family or medical leave benefits.”  House Bill 1125, sponsored by Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Titusville, would prohibit municipalities from enacting ordinances that protect workers from wage theft.

“These bills represent an ominous attempt to remove power from locally elected officials and make the voters mere bystanders in the democratic processes that define the character of their communities,” said Jeanette Smith, executive director of South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice.

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