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$15 Minimum Wage and Extended Paid Family Leave Funded in State Budget Deal

 Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announce agreement on 2016-17 State Budget on March 31, 2016.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announce agreement on 2016-17 State Budget on March 31, 2016.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers reached a budget deal late Thursday that would eventually raise the minimum wage to $15, as well as create a program that would offer the longest period of paid family leave in the country.

The agreement — which still needs to be voted on — would also avoid proposed cuts to funding for CUNY schools, which the city had vehemently been fighting to prevent.

Under the plan, the state would gradually increase the city's minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next few years — requiring businesses with at last 11 employees to comply by 2018, and requiring smaller businesses to comply by the end of 2019, Cuomo said. The city recently announced a similar agreement to raise the minimum wage of all city workers to $15 per hour — including pre-K teachers, custodial workers and crossing guards.

The budget would also implement a plan that would eventually offer up to 12 weeks of paid family leave off for workers to care for a baby or sick family member.

The program, which officials call the longest paid family leave program in the nation, would be implemented in phases and would begin in 2018, when it would cover half of a worker's average weekly pay. The pay would rise to 67 percent of an employee's wage by 2021, officials said. The coverage would be capped to the statewide average weekly wages at the time.

"We believe that people who work hard should be able to earn a decent living and support a family with dignity," Cuomo said. "We are going to prove that the economy can and should work for all."

Officials say the budget will also gradually lower personal income tax rate for middle class New Yorkers, or those making between $40,000 and $130,000. The decrease would start in 2018 and eventually reach as low as 5.5 percent by 2025, the lowest middle class tax rate in the state in 70 years, according to officials.

It would also provide $24.8 billion in school aid — $1.5 billion more than last year — and $27 billion in capital funding for the MTA

► READ MORE: Cuomo Earmarks $1B for Second Avenue Subway's Harlem Portion

In a statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the deal, specifically lauding the fact that it avoids "damaging cuts and cost shifts" related to CUNY and Medicaid funding.

Earlier this year, Cuomo proposed having the city pay more for each — what would have amounted to $485 million less a year in state funding for the city university system, a plan that drew protests last week in which dozens were arrested.

"Because proposals to put hundreds of millions of dollars of State liabilities for CUNY and Medicaid on the City were averted, we can maintain vital programs and protect the City against future economic turmoil," de Blasio said.

It was not immediately clear how much the budget would provide in CUNY funding, though state officials said it would avoid tuition hikes at both CUNY and SUNY schools.