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Phase-in of $9 minimum hourly wage under consideration

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo presents his

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo presents his fiscal 2014 budget proposal in Albany. (Jan. 22, 2013) Credit: AP

New York’s minimum wage would rise to $9 per hour over a three-year phase-in under a budget deal being discussed at the State Capitol, officials said Monday.

As a trade-off, the budget would include an array of tax cuts and tax credits proposed by Republicans, sources said. Lawmakers are also debating a last-minute push to tuck "stop-and-frisk" legislation into the budget.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders are trying to reach accord on a $142 billion spending plan either Monday or Tuesday, in order for the Legislature to pass it by Friday. The Legislature is slated to begin its Passover-Easter recess next week.

“I believe we’re going to get closure today,” Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said after an hourlong meeting Monday between legislative leaders and Cuomo.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said many details aren’t nailed down but that he expects the budget to be completed this week.

Minimum wage and business tax cuts are among the remaining high-profile items. Lawmakers are discussing raising the wage, currently $7.25 per hour, in a series of steps. It would jump to $8 per hour in 2014 and eventually go to $9 an hour in 2016, lawmakers said.

Republicans, who have argued a wage hike would prompt layoffs, have been pushing for a variety of tax cuts and tax credits for small businesses impacted by a higher wage. They’ve also advocated a training wage, or sub-minimum wage for youths for a short transition period — also, they said, to avoid layoffs.

Lawmakers are also discussing a renewal of the so-called millionaires’ tax, a phaseout of a surcharge on utilities, a restoration of funds for the developmentally disabled and a partial rollback of a Metropolitan Transportation Authority surcharge on businesses.

School aid — a perennial State Capitol battle — still isn’t settled either. A key issue is Cuomo's proposal to cut $50 million from a special category of school funding called High Tax Aid, legislators said. If not restored, Long Island districts would lose about $34 million.

Cuomo has proposed decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana as a way to reform New York Police Department "stop and frisk" policies. The governor and some legislators say too often minorities are charged with misdemeanors for "displaying" marijuana public after a police officer has ordered them to empty their pockets.




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