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Albany Round-up

March 21, 2013

Cuomo, Legislature promise tax cuts in NY budget

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York legislative leaders have sealed a tentative $135 billion budget deal for 2013-14 that controls spending and promises tax cuts.

After optimistic predictions they would reach a budget deal last Sunday, Cuomo and lawmakers became mired in policy issues. Still, the final budget is expected to beat the April 1 deadline for passage and become the third straight on-time budget for the state.

Cuomo said Wednesday the budget plan calls for a $350 rebate check for middle-class families with at least one child and a household income of $40,000 to $300,000. The checks wouldn't be sent to taxpayers until 2014, an election year for Cuomo, a Democrat, and lawmakers.

The agreement would raise the $7.25 hourly minimum wage to $9 over three years, but without automatic increases tied to inflation. The deal also would include the second extension of a temporary millionaire tax increase that raises $2 billion a year. The tax increase doesn't expire until next year, but this avoids a sensitive vote during an election year.

"With an increase of the millionaire's tax and a significant increase in the minimum wage, this budget takes strong steps to address income inequality," said Michael Kink of the Strong Economy for All coalition of progressive groups.

Tax cuts would be provided to employers hiring recent veterans or young workers, and to small businesses and corporations in one of the nation's highest taxed states.

State spending would rise less than 2 percent under the plan expected to be voted on by the Senate and Assembly by the end of Sunday. The total budget, including one-time federal funds for relief from Superstorm Sandy, is about $143 billion.

Cuomo budget director Robert Megna said school aid of more than $20 billion a year would go up by about $1 billion, an increase over the $890 million hike Cuomo proposed before the legislative negotiations took place.

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