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The chances of a minimum wage increase as part of the state budget this year took a step forward on Monday with the coalition-led Senate of Democrats and Republicans releasing one house resolution language supportive of the move.
"That is a sign of progress," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "That means they're willing to discuss it in the budget. Now the problem is we all have different minimum wage numbers. So that's what has to be reconciled."
The budget resolution approved by the Senate says an unspecified wage increase is being considered as part of the overall spending plan. Republicans have generally opposed the measure as a job killer and insisted the language isn't meant to be a sign of support.
"What I said in our budget resolution is that I would consider it along with other business tax credits and incentives," said Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos.
But Skelos' governing partner and the co-Senate president, Jeff Klein, the leader of five independent Democrats, said the resolution is a sign the wage increase should be in the budget.
Klein said, "The language is very clear. We have in our one house budget resolution an increase in the minimum wage. The increase would start this year and subsequent increases would be done over the next two years."
The resolution language does not outline how much the $7.25 minimum wage should be increased, but does call for a phased-in hike over three years. Cuomo's budget includes an $8.75 minimum wage, while powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's chamber last week approved a $9 minimum wage, with future increases indexed to the rate of inflation. Silver was not impressed with the IDC-GOP minimum wage proposal.
"The fact is there's no substance to it. They don't tell you what it is, they don't tell you if there's no indexing or not. They don't tell you as to what they did," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In other budget related developments at the Capitol, Cuomo acknowledged after a cabinet meeting that guidelines for locating three upstate casinos will likely not be included in the budget. He did not rule out coming to a deal on casino siting later in the year.
Cuomo said, "It is a complicated issue and given the short time frame, it may very well be that casinos waits for June."
The budget is due April 1st, but lawmakers and Cuomo expect to approve a very early budget by March 21st.