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Cuomo Discusses Fracking Study, Minimum Wage

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Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Queens Wednesday to deliver an on-the-road version of his State of the State address, where he said a decision on whether to allow a controversial form of natural gas drilling called hydraulic fracturing cannot be rushed. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

After criticism from some Republicans that his agenda is veering to the left, Governor Andrew Cuomo has appeared in front of friendly audiences in the last two weeks to highlight his priorities.

Last week, it was Harlem. On Wednesday, it was Queens, the borough that the Cuomo family once called home.

"For me, this is homecoming. I am a Queens boy through and through," Cuomo said. "I grew up in Hollis. I was Archbishop Molloy High School down on Queens Boulevard."

On Tuesday, the governor's health commissioner asked for more time to complete a study that examines the impact from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Opponents say the natural gas extraction procedure cannot be done safely, while supporters tout its potential economic benefits for New York State.

Cuomo has been weighing whether to allow fracking, much like neighboring Pennsylvania already has.

"We have gone through a deliberative process," the governor said. "People say, 'You should rush.' I'm not going to rush anyone. This is too important to make a mistake. The health commissioner says he needs more time to come to an intelligent conclusion, then he needs more time to come to an intelligent conclusion."

Some of the governor's critics say he's guided more by political calculations on fracking than the science, a charge he denies.

In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Barack Obama called for raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. Cuomo has proposed raising the state's minimum wage to $8.75.

"Well, I hope the federal government does it," Cuomo said. "If the federal government did do it, you could argue that it's less urgent for the state to do it. But I think we go down both tracks simultaneously."

Cuomo has included raising the minimum wage in his budget, so we should know soon whether or not that is going to happen, since lawmakers are hoping to pass the budget by March 21, more than 10 days short of the April 1 deadline.

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