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Voting On State Budget Expected To Get Underway This Weekend

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Voting on the state budget is expected to get underway this weekend, and while tax cuts and a minimum wage hike are part of the deal, other controversial issues have been put on hold.

With its minimum wage hike and tax rebate checks for most families, the state budget seems to have something for everyone.

State Senate Republicans, whose influence was expected to wane after losing the November elections, are claiming victory.

"Job creation, tax cuts and middle-income families that are struggling in New York State," state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said Wednessday. "Our responsibility is to respond to their needs."

Democrats who were left out of closed-door budget negotiations with leaders are upset that some of their other priorities fell by the wayside, including immigration reform.

"I am very disappointed that in this budget, we will not have the DREAM Act," said Assemblyman Karim Camara, whose district covers parts of the Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush sections of Brooklyn. "We have a diluted version of the minimum wage. It's not $9 now indexed for inflation."

Governor Andrew Cuomo had been seeking a mega-deal that would have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and enacted changes to the recently approved gun control legislation. But in the end, leaders opted to table them for now.

"Nothing is dropped," Cuomo said Wednesday. "We're going to still work on other issues. We might have an agreement with other issues. We want to get the budget itself underway. It's important that we pass the budget, we pass the budget on time."

The budget bills have now been printed and are sitting on lawmakers' desks, where they will need to age for three days. Voting is expected to begin on Sunday and will likely carry over into Monday morning.

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