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L.A. City Council's Living-Wage Bill

December 16, 1996

"It's Business as Usual for Living-Wage Opponents" (Opinion, Dec. 8) does not address the most basic issue of all--who is going to pay for the added cost of subsidizing Los Angeles city and perhaps county contract services? The "recent UC Riverside study" referred to in the article does in fact identify increased costs for the city--$93 million annually, which is likely understated. The study goes on to assume that somehow small businesses, many minority-owned, that contract with the city will somehow absorb the cost.

The city of Los Angeles is already facing a $40-million budget deficit. So who is going to pay the added cost, the electorate? Not likely, based on the recent results of Prop. 218. Who is left to foot the bill? Los Angeles already has a reputation as one of the highest-cost areas for business in the country.

While we all want to create good-paying jobs for our people, there is a proven way to attract and create them. There is an even easier way to chase them away--by increasing costs to small and medium-size businesses, which have created most of the jobs in recent years. The issue is so critical for our community because we will shortly be faced with several hundred thousand new entry-level job seekers, many with less than optimal skills, who will no longer be able to count on a federally funded welfare system to sustain them. Overpricing our people who need a new chance is the worst possible public policy.

LEE HARRINGTON

President and CEO

Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County

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