No NY Budget Deal Yet From Cuomo, Lawmakers


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York legislative leaders have emerged from a brief closed-door meeting without a state budget deal.

Tuesday’s negotiations are dragging into a week in which many thought a deal would be struck.

That means voting on budget bills could continue into Saturday, unless the governor and legislature vote to suspend the three days’ public review of legislation required by the state constitution.

The budget is expected to include a $9 hourly minimum wage phased in over three years, as well as $700 million in new tax cuts to businesses and middle-class families, according to two state officials.

The current $7.25 an hour minimum wage would rise to $8 in January, $8.75 a year later and $9 in the final year under the tentative deal. The deal is contingent on final agreement on the entire budget.

The tentative minimum wage deal is far less than the immediate bump to $9 with automatic rises tied to inflation that advocates sought and the Assembly’s Democratic majority proposed. President Barack Obama has also proposed a $9 federal minimum wage.

“Our food pantries and soup kitchens are overflowing with more than a million individuals who are the working poor,” said Mark Dunlea, of the Hunger Action Network of New York. “Someone in their household has a job, but they are paid so little they can’t afford to buy food and pay the landlord and utility company at the same time.”

Other advocates who made raising the minimum wage a top priority for more than two years were more supportive.

“If it stays on track to hit $9 in two years, as the speaker said, then 1.5 million workers are going to get a real raise, and that’s a good thing,” said Michael Kink, of the Strong Economy for All Coalition. He said indexing to inflation is needed to get the working poor out of poverty. “Clearly, we have more work to do.”

New York’s $7.25 rate is shared by 20 states, including neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Twelve states have a higher minimum wage than New York.

Powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sponsored the $9-an-hour bill.

“It’s on the table; we’re moving things along,” said the Manhattan Democrat. “Realistically, if we can get a minimum wage that ends at $9 in two years, I think we have done a tremendous service.”

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, whose conference proposed the tax cuts, says the total is $700 million “and growing.”