ALBANY – With the Senate and Assembly poised to start passing their largely symbolic, one-house budget measures, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today said the legislative plans are out of balance.
“I get the political impact of the one-house budgets,’’ Cuomo said of the annual process that lets the houses pass measures that will not become law but appeal to various special interest groups that want to see funding or tax breaks in the budget.
“But the numbers have to add up, and I don’t believe the numbers add up,’’ Cuomo said of the Senate and Assembly plans that began emerging over the weekend.
The governor said he supports the Senate plan to give tax breaks to businesses and middle-class residents, the Assembly measure to give more money to cities and both houses’ effort to restore $120 million in funding for programs for developmentally disabled people.
“Do I think any of the things they are suggesting are bad things? By and large, no,’’ Cuomo said at the Capitol a few hours before he is set to meet behind closed doors with legislative leaders to continue negotiating a 2013 budget.
“My experience is they are much better at finding things to add than finding sources of revenue,’’ he said of the Legislature’s one-house budget bill exercise.
Cuomo also signaled he could be willing to wait until later in the session to take up the issue of whether and how to permit up to seven new casinos to operate in New York. He has an expansion plan in his budget proposal, but said the issue is complex. He believes all sides want a casino deal, but still have not settled on the terms, chief among them being where the casinos might be located.
“It is a complicated issue and, given the short time frame, it may very well be that casinos wait for June,’’ he said of the end-of-session period when many major policy matters are decided.
The sides are rushing to get a budget adopted next week before the start of religious holidays and the April 1 start of the fiscal year.
Cuomo’s plan calls for permitting the first three casinos to be located upstate, though he has not said where. He said the challenge is to decide how long those three casinos will have exclusive rights to operate before the state lets any casinos move into New York City, which presumably could sharply eat into the profits of upstate casinos, particularly those located closer to downstate, such as the Catskills.
There is also some movement on the minimum wage issue with the printing later this afternoon of a Senate budget resolution – worked out by Republicans and a group of five breakaway Democrats who run the house under a coalition – that signals eroding of opposition by GOP senators to raising the wage, which is now set at $7.25. Republicans had been calling it a job killer, but seem to be changing that claim in the new budget resolution.
“The Senate will consider modifications to the executive proposal to increase the minimum wage. Like wages for many workers, the minimum wage has not kept up with the pace of inflation,’’ the resolution states. “The Senate will consider phasing in any minimum wage increase over three years beginning in 2013.’’
The resolution does not state what the Senate might accept as a level for the increase, and Cuomo’s plan is already different from that proposed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. But it signals that all sides now agree some sort of wage hike should be approved.
“It’s a sign of progress,’’ Cuomo said of the Senate resolution.