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Tentative State Budget Includes Multi-Year Minimum Wage Increase

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While a budget deal was not in place by late Monday, lawmakers in Albany agreed behind closed doors on about $800 million in tax cuts and a hike in the state minimum wage over the next three years, topping at $9 an hour by 2016.

The exact budget deal was not officially finalized, but Albany insiders familiar with the proposal said the hourly minimum wage would increase from the current level of $7.25 to $8 in January 2014, then reach $8.75 in January 2015 and lastly become $9 in January 2016.

A measure that would have had the minimum wage automatically increase with inflation is now off the table.

"Realistically, if we can get a minimum wage that ends in $9 after two years, I think we have done a tremendous service," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Republicans in the state Senate have fought to have tax cuts accompany the minimum wage increase, and apparently lawmakers have agreed to roughly $800 million in tax cuts for businesses and families.

State lawmakers did not say Monday where the money for the tax cuts would come from.

"I think that depending about how it's structured, depending upon what tax relief can be structured for small businesses that would be most effective, that's what's going on. Trying to figure out if some offset could be sufficient enough to justify some type of adjustment in the minimum wage," said State Senator John DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse.

"We'll we have always said business tax cuts, family tax cuts, a lot of tax cuts," said state Senate Republican Conference leader Dean Skelos.

Albany lawmakers hope to pass the state budget by the end of the week so that they can go home for the Passover and Easter holidays, but the official deadline for a balanced state budget is April 1.

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