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Austin Chamber Disapproves of Casar's Mandate

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is not pleased with Austin City Council member Greg Casar's decision to rush through a mandate for all private businesses that forces them to offer paid sick time.  

"He did come to our board meeting and we asked him how much it would cost," said Austin Chamber Vice President Drew Scheberle.  "He said that he cannot model that until they pass the ordinance."

Casar also told the Chamber he has absolutely no interest in hearing from the public about this and is refusing to entertain the notion that the ordinance needs more time to be thoroughly vetted by a very concerned business community.

"He told us that didn't fit with the schedule that the Austin City Council had set out for itself," Sheberle said.

Since Casar has been unwilling (or unable) to provide any financial impacts to his proposed mandate, the Chamber crunched its own numbers and came to a rough estimate of $160,000,000 per year.  But what's even more concerning, according to Scheberle, is that many people might not realize that they'll have to offer these benefits until after they've already been slapped with a $500 fine from the city.

"If you've got somebody who mows your lawn, or if you've got a babysitter who works more than 80-hours a year for you, you'll have to file the paperwork or be subject to a penalty," Scheberle said.

Below is information from WashingPolicy.org, an independent research organization with offices in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Seattle and Olympia.  They cited a recent University of Washington report showing how Seattle employers have already responded to the 2012 paid sick leave mandate: 

•    8.2 percent of employers raised prices on consumers. 
•    6.4 percent of employers decreased pay raises or bonuses. 
•    5.3 percent of employers cut vacation time. 
•    2.7 percent of employers reduced their number of employees or moved employees out of the city. 

The Chamber conducted a similar estimate of the initial paid sick leave proposal using the figures quoted by advocates for paid leave and found the impact to be nearly five times higher.

Scheberle and the Chamber are hoping that other city council members can reel in Casar's unwillingness to compromise, and at least delay a vote until a later date.

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