Cuomo, Legislature Eye 3rd Straight On-Time Budget

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders were meeting in a closed-door session in Manhattan while rank-and-file lawmakers convened in Albany in an attempt to iron out a deal on the state’s proposed $143 billion budget.

If agreements can be reached, it could be the third consecutive on-time budget New York state has had since the 1980s, a departure from the political fighting and stalemates that made most budgets so late they weren’t completed until after the legislative session ended.

“I think the budgets had been a flashpoint for the dysfunction,” Cuomo said of the almost uninterrupted string of late budgets between the administration of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and his. “Three budgets in a row makes a statement.”

A deal on the budget will need to be voted on by March 21 because a three-week vacation for the Legislature begins March 25. The budget is due by the April 1 start of the fiscal year.

Budget talks include raising the minimum wage and adding business tax breaks.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has made raising the minimum wage a major goal of his Democratic conference and has support from the governor and the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate.

Silver has sought an increase to $9 an hour, from the current $7.25, with automatic increases tied to inflation. The opposition is among Republicans who share control of the Senate with the IDC.

Senate Republicans continue to seek up to $2 billion in tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class, which remain under discussion and could be tied to a minimum wage hike.

Cuomo again said he wouldn’t allow the Legislature to restore about $250 million in aid to New York City schools that was lost when Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the teachers union failed to agree on a teacher evaluation system required by state law.