ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders were meeting in a closed-door session in Manhattan while rank-and-file lawmakers convened in Albany in an attempt to iron out a deal on the state's proposed $143 billion budget.
If agreements can be reached, it could be the third consecutive on-time budget New York state has had since the 1980s, a departure from the political fighting and stalemates that made most budgets so late they weren't completed until after the legislative session ended.
"I think the budgets had been a flashpoint for the dysfunction," Cuomo said of the almost uninterrupted string of late budgets between the administration of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and his. "Three budgets in a row makes a statement."
Cuomo and the legislative leadership were meeting Friday in New York City.
A deal on the budget will need to be sealed by the end of this weekend and voted on by a target date of March 21 because a three-week vacation for the Legislature that includes Easter and Passover begins March 25.
The budget is due by the April 1 start of the fiscal year.
Budget talks include raising the minimum wage and adding business tax breaks.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has made raising the minimum wage a major goal of his Democratic conference and has support from the Democratic governor and the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate.
Silver has sought an increase to $9 an hour, from the current $7.25, with automatic increases tied to inflation. The opposition is among Republicans who share control of the Senate with the IDC.
"There is no agreement. It's on the table," Silver said Thursday afternoon.
Senate Republicans continue to seek up to $2 billion in tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class, which remain under discussion and could be tied to a minimum wage hike.
Cuomo again said he wouldn't allow the Legislature to restore about $250 million in aid to New York City schools that was lost when Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the teachers union failed to agree on a teacher evaluation system required by state law. Cuomo said he wouldn't allow lawmakers to find other ways to make the city schools whole, either.
The one plan that was once in the budget and now seems omitted is Cuomo's proposal to authorize three casinos in upstate New York.
Late Thursday, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous of Broome County said the Legislature should authorize up to four more casinos, possibly in New York City's outer boroughs and on Long Island as well as in his Southern Tier district. He said a greater stake will be needed statewide to motivate voters to approve a referendum in the fall to legalize casinos not run by Indian tribes.
Without adding more sites, Libous said, the referendum might lose because the turnout will be dominated by New York City voters choosing a mayor with little interest in upstate casinos. No statewide races are on the ballot.
A well-funded effort to reject the proposal is expected from casino interests in Connecticut and New Jersey to avoid more competition from New York.
A second extension of the so-called temporary millionaire's tax which raises $1.9 billion a year is also being discussed in a budget that was billed to have no tax increases, according to two state officials familiar with the talks. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss issues in closed-door negotiations.
The income tax increase is currently due to expire in 2014, Cuomo's re-election year.
Cuomo said he trying to budget some revenue over two years, to provide greater predictability and order to the annual budget process.
- Politics & Government
- State Budget & Tax
- Andrew Cuomo
- Mario Cuomo