State Budget Takes Vague Shape In Albany
Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they are still on track for passing an early state budget this month, though several contentious issues remain unresolved. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
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Hoping to pass a budget by March 21, legislative leaders met behind closed doors with Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday. Everyone who emerged, including the governor, was vague about what was said. Cuomo even went so far as to call the meeting "uneventful."
"There is nothing in, there is nothing out. There is nothing in the budget because we don't have a budget. So we can have these great speculative conversations. Is the minimum wage in is the minimum wage out?" said Cuomo.
Earlier in the day, senate Republicans held a press conference to lay out their priorities for the budget. They include half a billion dollars in tax cuts.
"As you know in the budget right now, the governor has about $2.5 billion in new program spending. So we are presenting today what we believe should be part of the negotiations," said Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos.
Leaders recently agreed that they have an extra $200 million in surplus revenue to allocate. And while disagreements over how to spend that money are anticipated, the last contentious issue remains whether to include a minimum wage hike in the budget.
There are several different proposals on the table that vary greatly.
"As against the bidding war that is going on between the governor, the Assembly and President Obama. It just seems to be how high can you go with them," Skelos said.
"I think that's silly. I think that we need to be proactive as a state. They love to wait. Everybody loves to wait. But the time is now," said State Assemblyman Keith Wright of Manhattan.
The State Assembly plans to pass a minimum wage increase on Tuesday as a stand alone bill. It should easily pass, but that could be a sign that even Assembly Democrats have now given up hope that the minimum wage hike will be part of the budget.