Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York legislative leaders cemented a plan to raise the state minimum wage to $9 an hour as part of a $136.5 billion budget proposal.
The increase from $7.25 would be phased in over three years starting Jan. 1, when it would reach $8, then rise to $8.75 a year later before climbing to $9 in 2016, according to two people familiar with the plan who asked not to be identified because they weren’t cleared to discuss the closed-door talks.
Lawmakers and Cuomo, a Democrat, are still working out how to distribute $700 million in tax cuts agreed to for small businesses and families as they move toward an overall deal on the fiscal 2014 spending plan. An accord may be reached by today, said Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican who co-leads the Senate. New York’s fiscal year begins April 1.
“We have a good framework for discussion here and we’re making progress on an agreement,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said yesterday at a news briefing after an hour-long meeting with Cuomo and other legislative leaders. “Everything’s on the table.”
Negotiators are also discussing extending a higher tax rate on joint filers earning $2 million or more a year, which raises $1.9 billion annually and is set to expire in 2014, Skelos said. Cuomo, who comes up for re-election in 2014, pushed the tax through in December 2011, coupling it with reductions for married couples earning less than $300,000 a year.
At least 10 states are considering raising their minimum wages. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is pushing for a federal minimum of $9, up from $7.25 currently.
In New Jersey, voters will decide in November whether to push the rate there to $8.25, a $1 increase. Connecticut lawmakers are considering a measure that would raise the minimum wage there to $9.75 in 2014 from $8.25. Governor Dan Malloy has said he supports Obama’s plan, which would phase in the increase to $9 in stages by the end of 2015.
Cuomo has said New York needs to act even after Obama’s call for a higher national rate because Republicans in Congress may prevent an increase in the federal minimum.
The structure of reaching the $9 rate in New York may change as negotiations continue, though getting to that level is a near certainty, the people familiar with the discussions said.
Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesman, didn’t respond to an e-mailed request yesterday for comment on the agreements.