Albany, NY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they have an agreement on a $135 billion state budget that includes provisions that would touch the working poor, middle-class families, millionaires, employers, and veterans looking for work.
The deal struck in closed-door sessions by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders will need to be approved by the full Senate and Assembly.
Also important is what was left out. That includes a $25 million “Dream Act” pushed by Latino lawmakers to provide state finance aid to young illegal aliens attending college. The budget also fails to reimburse New York City schools with $250 million they lost for failing to agree on a teacher evaluation system by a state mandated deadline.
Among the highlights of the 2013-14 budget deal are:
-Raising the $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $8 an hour on Jan. 1; $8.75 a year later; and $9 a year after that. There would be no automatic increase tied to inflation as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had sought.
-A tax rebate of about $350 for families with at least one child making $40,000 to $300,000. The checks won’t flow, however, until at least 2014, an election year.
-About $700 million in additional business tax cuts spread over at least the next two fiscal years sought by Senate Republicans. The cuts include a tax rebate for employers who hire recent combat veterans in a measure sought by the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference. They include a $10,000 tax credit for hiring a veteran who joined the service after Sept. 11, 2001, and $15,000 credit for hiring disabled veterans.
-A second extension of the $2 billion temporary millionaire’s tax. The income tax increase on those making $1 million isn’t due to expire until 2014, but inclusion this year will avoid taking up the measure during an election year for Cuomo and the lawmakers. Cuomo and Senate Republicans first extended the tax in a special session in December 2011 after promising in the 2010 elections to reject the measure as a job killer and a bad message for New York to send to employers.
-Changes to the state’s new gun control law. The bill was rushed into law a month after the Newtown, Conn., shootings and contains several errors and ambiguities that must be fixed. Among them is allowing gun sellers to continue to sell firearms with the standard 10-bullet magazine. New York’s measure outlaws magazines that carry more than seven bullets, but seven-bullet magazines aren’t made. Another fix would exempt police and their high-capacity guns from the law and allow Hollywood to continue making violent movies and TV shows in New York, using weapons banned in the state.
-Limitations on the New York City Police Department’s practice of “stop and frisk,” which supporters say cuts down on crime and opponents call a violation of civil rights. Cuomo has sought to limit this practice by de-criminalizing small amounts of marijuana in public. He had sought to turn a misdemeanor for public display into a violation, the same charge for possession of small amounts of marijuana in private settings such as homes.
-Approval to let New York City use traffic cameras to record license plates of speeding cars.