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Cuomo says minimum wage increase will include a "pause"

Posted by Karen DeWitt on

There’s a framework deal on the state budget as the Thursday midnight deadline approaches, but it appears less likely that the midnight deadline for passage will be met. Governor Cuomo says his minimum wage proposal now includes a pause in the phase in to $15 after three years,  to reassess the health of the state’s economy.

In Cuomo’s  latest plan, the $15 an hour minimum wage would be fully phased in in three years in New York City. The phase in for Long Island and upstate would be longer. And Cuomo says after the first three years, there would be a break  to analyze the effects of the wage hikes so far  on the economies of those regions.

“If the economy slows, a national downturn, you have a safety mechanism for the minimum wage increase,” Cuomo said. “Which is the perfect design.”

The legislature still has not signed off on the minimum wage deal.

Senate Leader John Flanagan was still holding meetings with his Republican conference.

“We are not there, we’ll get there,” Flanagan said. “But we are not finalized.”

The Senate was scheduled to reconvene for a party conference at 11 am on Thursday.

Cuomo says there’s also discussions to add $1 billion dollars worth of income tax reductions for New Yorkers earning under $300,000 a year, which he calls “a very, very big deal”.  

Talks were also continuing on enacting paid family leave program, where employees would contribute to a fund to pay for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave per year.  And exact numbers for school aid distribution are yet to be determined.  Charter schools were advocating for more funding in the budget as well.

Governor Cuomo dropped a plan to shift $250 million dollars in Medicaid costs to New York City in favor of  a joint effort with the City to wring savings out of the program, , after Assembly Democrats , many of whom are from New York City, objected.  Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie says that’s a big step forward.

“It’s better than it was,” Heastie said. “We’re closer.”

An earlier plan to spread the additional Medicaid cost shift among all of New York’s counties has been scrapped.

As the clock ticked toward the deadline, Cuomo raised a new potential form of persuasion to get lawmakers to agree on a budget. The governor and legislature have appointed a pay raise commission, to make a decision after the November elections on whether Senators and Assemblymembers should receive a pay raise. Cuomo, who has appointees on the commission, hinted that lawmakers would have to prove that they deserve a pay raise.

“Performance matters,” Cuomo said. “If they don’t pass a budget on time, obviously that is failure of performance.”

But before the pay commission decides, the governor says, lawmakers will first have to make their case to the voters on Election Day. 

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