Bad for business? Business owner weighs in on minimum wage debate

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) As Kentucky legislators consider raising the minimum wage, Lee Greer, one of the most successful businessmen in Kentucky worries there will be consequences.

"This is a call to arms for anybody in town and anybody in the state that wants to protect business and protect consumers," said Greer who is the president of the casual food chain Cheddar's.

Since 2009 Kentucky's minimum wage has been set at $7.25 an hour. House Bill 1 would raise minimum wage $3 over the next three years to $10.10.

Greer says his employees already make more than $10 an hour.

But if minimum wage is increased, he says in turn, he'll have to raise his employees even more.

He says coupled with extra taxes it would raise operating costs for restaurants in Kentucky, such as Cheddar's, by as much as 200 percent.

"It's going to be difficult for all Kentucky businesses to create jobs and keep the ones they have," he said.

On the other side of the debate, Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says close to 400,000 Kentuckians make less than $10.10 an hour.

He says the state needs to adjust for the cost of living so others can have a higher standard of living.

"For them it's a matter of being able to place food on the table, placing clothes on their children's backs and keeping electricity on in the summer," said Stumbo.

Greer says with restaurants making up one of the biggest industries in the state, it's a matter of keeping prices down and keeping employees on the job.

"It's our job to protect jobs at all costs. I really believe the people they say they're trying to help, it will hurt them the most," Greer said.

We're told the earliest we could see a vote on House Bill 1 in the full House would be Tuesday.

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