Let's get something straight: Gov. Steve Beshear didn't raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10.
Businesses don't have to give entry-level workers a 39-percent pay raise, except those that have contracts to work on state property.
What his order did do, however, was attempt to revive statewide minimum-wage legislation by raising the hourly pay for about 800 state employees.
That legislation failed in the 2015 session because of the impact that it would have on small business.
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Fifty-one percent of everyone who receives a paycheck in Kentucky gets it from working at a small business.
The question of whether to raise the minimum wage isn't about policy. It's about politics. It's about emotions, not economics.
Whenever I hear a politician talk about raising the minimum wage, I can't help but think of those old commercials for correspondence courses in VCR repair, where actress Sally Struthers says, "Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do!"
Everybody wants to make more money. What politicians don't understand, or choose to forget, is that the money has to come from some place.
Governments can magically give 800 people a 39-percent pay raise, because the money's not coming out of their pockets. It's coming out of your pocket, in the form of the taxes you pay, and if the state doesn't have enough money to cover the wage increase, it'll just raise your taxes.
But that's beside the point. The debate over raising the minimum wage is about politics, plain and simple, because the fact is that raising the minimum wage by even a dollar or two an hour invariably hurts the people it's meant to help — the young, people just entering the workforce and those with no or limited skills. Studies have shown that raising the minimum wage will actually cut the number of jobs available.
It's easy for people to think of business owners as a bunch of Scrooge McDucks, diving into a pile of gold coins in a vault somewhere, but they're not. Employers, especially those with small businesses, have to stick to a budget, same as everybody else, and there's only so much money to pay employees.
If you raise the minimum wage, then you can't afford to hire as many people and that means you'll be a lot choosier about the workers you do hire.
It causes businesses to look at restructuring processes, outsourcing and investing in more technology to replace workers with no skills or experience.
The research backs that up. In 2012, economists at the University of Georgia and San Diego State University found that raising the minimum wage doesn't do anyone much good.
One of the economists who wrote the study, Robert Nielsen of the University of Georgia, said, "Regardless of who is looking at it ... almost no one finds any positive effects for helping families through minimum wage increases.... As a policy tool, it doesn't reach the right people."
Everybody wants to make more money and it's always been easy for elected officials to spend someone else's money. Look at the jobs that have been lost because of the Affordable Care Act weekly hours-worked thresholds.
With the devastation to the coal industry and the many other challenges that small businesses face, which is the greater good? Encouraging growth in economic expansion and protecting the jobs we have or forcing small business to choose who to let go?