Cuomo, State Lawmakers Reach Budget Deal
ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders said Wednesday evening that they have reached a state budget agreement, which would include raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour over three years.
The closed-door agreement puts Albany on track to pass the third straight on-time budget.
That feat has not accomplished since the early 1980s.
The 2013-14 spending plan would increase state spending just under 2 percent, to about $136 billion. The total is almost $143 billion when federal aid for Superstorm Sandy recovery is included.
The budget would also include business and family tax cuts, most of which would be in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Cuomo said the deal also calls for a $350 rebate check for middle-class families with at least one child and a household income of $40,000 to $300,000. The checks wouldn’t be sent to taxpayers until 2014, an election year for Cuomo, a Democrat, and lawmakers.
Further, the budget would cut taxes on employers who hire recent veterans and young workers and on small businesses and corporations in a state that has one of the nation’s highest tax burdens.
Cuomo budget director Robert Megna said school aid of more than $20 billion a year would increase by about $1 billion, an increase over the $890 million increase Cuomo proposed before the legislative negotiations.
But New York City schools won’t get the $250 million reimbursement it sought. The schools lost the increase from last year because the United Federation of Teachers union and Mayor Michael Bloomberg failed to agree to a teacher evaluation system by a deadline set by state law.
A spokesman for the Bloomberg administration had no immediate comment Wednesday.
The deal also would extend a temporary millionaire tax increase that raises $2 billion a year. The increase doesn’t expire until next year and including it in the deal now avoids a sensitive vote in an election year for Cuomo and legislators.
After optimistic predictions they would reach a budget deal last Sunday, Cuomo and legislative leaders became mired in policy issues. Still, the final budget is expected to beat the April 1 deadline for passage and become the third straight on-time budget for the state. New York has become known for its decades of missed budget deadlines and a dysfunctional budget process.
The policy issues will be discussed until the end of the legislative session in late June and include Cuomo’s proposed restrictions to the stop-and-frisk policy of the New York City police. The governor wants to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. He wants the public display of small amounts to be a violation, not a more serious misdemeanor, which Democrats say can ruin young lives.
Also, no agreement has been reached on penalties for synthetic marijuana or the dangerous drug known as bath salts or on changes to the gun control law passed in January in response to the Connecticut school shooting.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) expressed satisfaction with the agreement, saying it maintains longstanding commitments by the Assembly majority while providing for critical investments for the future.
“This agreement encompasses the budget as well as the Assembly Majority’s top priority, raising the minimum wage,” Silver said in a statement. “Equally important, we ensure the care and wellbeing of our vulnerable populations, stimulate job creation, and safeguard a sound education for our children.”
The Senate and Assembly must print and pass the bills by next week to beat the April 1 deadline.
The budget could be adopted by the Senate and Assembly by late Sunday, without interrupting the Passover-Easter break for legislators. Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos promised a “really early budget.”
Cuomo said he wants to avoid issuing orders to suspend the three days’ public review of bills required under the constitution.
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