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Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Strike Budget Deal

By Stefanie DeAngelo | March 21, 2013 2:17pm
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal on the New York State budget in Albany on Wednesday, March 20.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal on the New York State budget in Albany on Wednesday, March 20.
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NEW YORK CITY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Albany lawmakers reached a deal on the state budget Wednesday night that would boost the state's minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2016.

The tentative, two-year, $135 million deal includes an agreement to increase the minimum wage in gradual increments from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour over three years, with a boost to $8 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014 and $9 by the end of 2015.

The deal, which lawmakers hoped would be be approved by the full Senate and Assembly over the weekend, also includes a $350 tax rebate for families with at least one child and an annual income between $40,000 and $300,000.

“Today’s budget agreement is a huge step-forward for families across New York. We’re not only giving minimum wage workers the raise they deserve — we’re putting real dollars back into the pockets of families who really need it,” said Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Jeffrey Klein in a statement.

Negotiations also brought to light potential alterations to the previously passed NY SAFE Act regulating firearms, which Cuomo, eager to become the first to pass gun legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. massacre, rushed to a vote on January 15.

The provision, which was slated to go into effect on April 15, would have limited the purchase of gun magazines to those carrying only seven bullets —  the strictest magazine limit in the country, but one Cuomo acknowledged would be impossible to uphold, as the industry standard is a 10-bullet magazine.

"There is no such thing as a seven-bullet magazine. That doesn't exist, so you really have no practical option," Cuomo told reporters during a press conference announcing the deal in Albany.

Proposed changes to the provision also include exempting Hollywood filmmakers shooting on location in New York, as well as New York City police officers, who had complained that they, too, would be restricted by the law.

However, Cuomo acknowledged that while the budget was, “a good opportunity to resolve as many issues as possible,” he emphasized that no agreements had been officially made about NY SAFE or other controversial issues.

“There’s no agreement on 'stop -and-frisk.' There’s no agreement on 'The Dream Act.' There’s no agreement on synthetic marijuana. There’s no agreement on bath salts. These are all issues that are ongoing discussions,” he said.

Other budget changes of note include an additional $700 million in business tax cuts over two years and a permanent tax credit to businesses hiring veterans.