Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared to be closing in on a deal today for New York’s 2013-14 budget that includes increasing the minimum wage over three years and provides $700 million in tax breaks for businesses and families.
Legislative leaders met several times with the Democratic governor in his second-floor offices. The hope is to come to a tentative agreement late tonight on a $136 billion spending plan, according to lawmakers.
“We don’t have a final deal on anything but everything is coming close,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County. “I think there’s a good chance we could have everything done tonight. That’s my goal.”
Cuomo and lawmakers have been trying to reach a compromise on raising the state’s $7.25 hourly minimum wage after Democrats sought to increase it to $9 an hour starting in January.
The sides said they have a tentative deal to increase the minimum wage over three years—$8 an hour in 2014, $8.75 an hour in 2015 and $9 an hour in 2016.
The package would also include the $700 million in tax breaks for businesses and the middle class, and it would extend higher income-tax rates on millionaires past 2014, when they set to expire.
Some lawmakers said they would be disappointed if the minimum-wage increase wasn’t raised to $9 in January, saying poor families need it. The Fiscal Policy Institute and the National Employment Law Project, labor-backed groups, said the difference in the phase in versus the $9 in January would mean $1.2 billion in lower wages over five years for low-income New Yorkers.
“I think we need to do this immediately,” said Assemblyman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern, Rockland County. “There are so many families and single moms who are struggling, and I believe this would help the local economy.”
Republican lawmakers and business groups have sought to beat back the minimum-wage increase. Republicans have joint control over the Senate with a group of Democrats. The Democratic-led Assembly earlier this month passed increasing the minimum wage to $9.
“Small business, especially those in upstate New York, cannot afford a mandated increase in labor costs,” said Michael Durant, the state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, in a statement earlier this month.
Lawmakers are scheduled to start a two-week spring break on Friday, meaning they want to pass all the budget bills by Thursday.