Business owners did their best yesterday to scare off Council members mulling a bill that would require all employers in the city to provide up to nine paid sick days. The owners insist such a law would force small businesses to slash salaries and benefits, lay off employees, and eventually flee the city. "Pile on another expense to us, you’re gonna put people out of business. You’re gonna encourage people to move their business out of New York City. I’m a mile from New Jersey. It’s a hop over the bridge. And it’s very tempting," said Tom Scarangello of Scaran Heating & Air Conditioning.

"I’m predicting that if this bill is passed in its current form, it’s going to result in the layoff of thousands of workers in New York City," declared Metro Optics Eyewear owner John Bonizio. It's unclear which way City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is leaning, and it's anyone's guess when she'll bring it to a vote. But Mayor Bloomberg told NY1, "Everybody would love to be able to have paid sick leave, and at the same time, it’s true that a lot of small businesses probably can’t afford it, and so we’ve got to find some ways of balancing those two things."

Advocates of the bill, who claim that half of the city’s workforce has no paid sick leave, weren't afraid to get alarmist either. "Think about going to breakfast in the morning, and ordering a bagel, and getting a side dish of H1N1, because the person who served it was not feeling well," warned Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. According to the Daily News, advocates on each side of the debate presented vastly different cost estimates: Kevin Miller of the Institute for Women's Policy Research said at least 850,000 workers would receive leave under the law, costing $332 million. But the business coalition claims it will soak them for $8.8 billion.