MAURY THOMPSON Special for The Post-Star
Local state lawmakers will continue to urge Governor Kathy Hochul to reject a recommendation to lower the farm overtime pay threshold from 60 hours to 40 hours. But if they fail, a tax credit enacted in the new state budget will kick in to help defray the costs.
“If she doesn’t (reject the recommendation) then the tax credit will be essential for sure,” D-Round Lake MP Carrie Woerner said in a phone interview Friday.
The state Farmworkers Wage Board voted 2-1 in January to recommend the state Department of Labor reduce the overtime pay threshold from 60 hours per week to 40 hours per week, on a 10 year period.
The threshold is 60 hours since January 1, 2020.
Once the wage board formally submits its recommendation to the state, which it has yet to do, the Labor Department will seek public comment on the standard and make a recommendation to Hochul, which has the final word, said Steve Ammerman, spokesman for the New York Agricultural Bureau.
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The tax credit, included in the new state budget voted on Thursday and Friday, will be a refundable tax credit, equivalent to 118% of overtime wages paid for less than 60 hours per week.
The extra 18% would offset Social Security and Medicare taxes farmers pay on overtime wages, and interest on short-term loans farmers may have to borrow until the payouts are completed. tax credit are received.
“This is a legislative effort to try to strike a balance,” Ammerman said Saturday. “We continue to oppose the lower threshold.”
The credit would be paid in two semi-annual installments.
Farmers could request the first installment, to be paid in advance, on July 31.
The second installment would be processed with the annual tax returns.
The Farm Bureau had requested quarterly payments.
Semi-annual payments will always create a cash flow problem for farmers, said Michael Bittel, president and CEO of the Adirondacks Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“We have a cash flow problem and the farmers are the last to get paid,” said Hebron supervisor Brian Campbell, a farmer. “Anything that could help towards that end would be a plus.”
Assemblyman Matt Simpson, R-Horicon, said it was important to continue to pressure Hochul to reject the wages commission recommendation, rather than settle for the tax credit .
“It doesn’t solve the problem of who is ultimately going to pay overtime,” he said in a phone interview on Friday.