N.Y. lawmakers set to pass $155.6B state budget

N.Y. lawmakers set to pass $155.6B state budget

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Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (c.) walks to a budget meeting in Albany, N.Y.Mike Groll/AP

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (c.) walks to a budget meeting in Albany, N.Y.

ALBANY — Lawmakers on Thursday began passage of a $ 155.6 billion state budget that will hike the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour in most parts of the state, create a statewide paid family leave program and enact a middle class tax cut.

The spending plan also includes $ 1 billion for the Second Ave. subway project. The money would be earmarked for the project’s second phase, which will extend the line north from 96th St. to 125th St. and Lexington Ave.

“This budget once again makes New York the progressive leader,” Gov. Cuomo said after days of intense backroom negotiations with the Legislature.

SENATE GOP SLAPS DE BLASIO BY PROPOSING BUDGET THAT HURTS NYC, REJECTS EXTENDING MAYORAL CONTROL OF SCHOOLS

The budget also appeared to spare the city nearly $ 800 million in added Medicaid and CUNY costs that Gov. Cuomo had proposed in his initial spending plan.

In the end, lawmakers were set to miss the end-of-Thursday deadline to have a new state spending plan in place. It’s expected that passage of the budget will be completed sometime Friday, making it the second straight late budget — a blow to Cuomo after a previous string of four on-time spending plans.

Senate Democrats and Assembly Republicans, who were frozen out of the budget talks because they are in the minority, complained that the budget was being enacted with little chance for public scrutiny of the bills. Instead, Cuomo gave the Legislature special permission to waive the usual requirement that bills age for three days before being acted upon.

GOV. CUOMO BACKS OFF BUDGET PROPOSAL THAT WOULD HAVE COST NYC AN EXTRA $ 800M AFTER PROTEST FROM BILL DE BLASIO

“When we studied budgets in school, this wasn’t how it worked,” Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said during a floor debate.

But legislative leaders said it’s the end product that counts. They also noted the budget holds the state spending increase to under 2% for the sixth straight year.

“When we studied budgets in school, this wasn’t how it worked,” Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said during a floor debate.Mike Groll/AP

“When we studied budgets in school, this wasn’t how it worked,” Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) said during a floor debate.

It increases total school aid funding by 6.5% over the previous year, boosts funding for charter schools by about $ 430 per student, and freezes tuition at CUNY and SUNY.

The new spending plan also includes a middle class tax cut that officials said would save married couple who file jointly nearly $ 6.6 billion in the first four years and lower the rates for those earning between $ 40,000 and $ 300,000 to their lowest levels in 70 years.

But it’s the minimum wage plan that is sure to draw the most attention, not only in New York, but nationally. Cuomo and legislative leaders signed off on the deal the same day California lawmakers approved a $ 15 an hour minimum wage that Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign into law and will take effect by 2022.

After facing strong resistance from state Senate Republicans, the New York minimum wage plan announced Thursday is vastly different than the one Cuomo proposed in January that would have raised the rate to $ 15 an hour in New York City by 2018 and the rest of the state by 2021.

“I proposed what I thought in my opinion was the best, but this is the art of compromise and we have a Republican Senate and a Democratic Assembly and this is a proposal that can pass,” Cuomo told reporters.

Cuomo, who only last year scoffed that the $ 15 minimum wage being sought by Assembly Democrats was too high, this year made it a priority as he has tried to repair his relationship with the liberal wing of the Democratic party. He even named the effort after his late father, former three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Under the plan, the Big Apple minimum wage would jump $ 2 a year until hitting $ 15 except for businesses with 10 employees or less. For those businesses, the $ 15 wage would be phased in over four years, three sources said.

On Long Island and Westchester County, the current $ 9 minimum wage would increase to $ 15 an hour over six years, with a review halfway through the phase-in period to determine the impact, the sources said.

But after a near mutiny by upstate Republican senators, Cuomo and the Legislature agreed to raise the wage upstate to just $ 12.50 an hour over five years with future increases designed to get to $ 15 an hour tied to a formula that will be set by the governor’s Division of Budget, in consultation with the state Department of Labor.

The budget also appeared to spare the city nearly $  800 million in added Medicaid and CUNY costs that Gov. Cuomo had proposed in his initial spending plan.Mike Groll/AP

The budget also appeared to spare the city nearly $ 800 million in added Medicaid and CUNY costs that Gov. Cuomo had proposed in his initial spending plan.

There is no deadline or guarantee the $ 15 rate will be met upstate.

Under the plan, the governor can also freeze the rate increases starting in 2019 if the economy turns sour, he said.

Union leaders as well as many advocates praised the deal, even if some were disappointed the Senate would not go along with the higher wage for upstate.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses, one of a number of groups that fought against the wage hike, said the deal “will threaten the viability of New York’s small businesses and set our state on a path of complete economic uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, the employee-funded state paid family leave program will offer 12 weeks of paid time off for workers who want to take care of a sick relative or spend time with a newborn. The program will be phased in over four years beginning 2018.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein, who in recent years pushed for a paid family leave program, said of the budget that “this is truly the year of the worker.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie added that “this is a budget that takes the necessary steps to move our communities and our state forward.”

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican caught in an upstate-downstate divide within his Republican conference, had a hard sell in recent weeks. The Senate Republicans are focused on trying to maintain their slim majority in this year’s elections.

In his statement, Flanagan did not mention the minimum wage, but instead chose to focus on Republican bread-and-butter issues like delivering a sixth timely budget that he said controls spending, offers tax relief, and higher levels of school funding.  

Tags:
new york state budget ,
minimum wage ,
new york state legislature ,
liz krueger ,
andrew cuomo ,
CUNY

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