Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber reacts to State of the Union address

Minimum wage hike may "eliminate jobs," group says

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati's biggest business advocacy group liked some of what it heard in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last night. But the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber says its 5,000 members need better answers on reducing government regulations and lowering the U.S. corporate tax rates.

"Overall, the Chamber is concerned with how the president's plans will be funded," said Matt Davis, the chamber's vice president of government affairs. "We believe that small businesses will not grow if they are saddled with higher taxes, greater spending and more regulations. We believe small businesses will thrive by simplifying the tax code, lowering rates, reforming government and right-sizing regulations."

Davis liked the president's call for comprehensive immigration reform and increasing access to early-childhood education. But he warned that companies could be forced by the mandates in the Affordable Care Act to "cut hours and reclassify employees to part time in order to keep the doors open and the lights on."

Davis also criticized the president's proposal to hike the minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015, up from $7.25.

"A mandated increase in the minimum wage could cause small businesses to eliminate jobs, reduce hours, and cut benefits beyond what they have already done to stay in business," Davis said. "This is particularly concerning given our fragile economy and the country's unemployment rate."

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