ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a tentative deal on the 2013 state budget Wednesday night, with plans to hike the minimum wage, cut taxes next year for hundreds of thousands of families and lower certain business taxes in a fiscal plan that will ending up totaling about $142 billion.
However, Cuomo and lawmakers told reporters that a long menu of major items still needs to be resolved, including how much money will go to schools, details about the phase-out of a utility tax, cuts in programs for developmentally disabled people and how lawmakers might have more say over the spending of economic development money.
At a hastily called news conference, Cuomo described the deal as “an agreement in concept,’’ and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver labeled it a “conceptual framework.’’
Precise details will be coming out in budget bills over the next 48 hours, and lawmakers were told not to expect to start passing bills until at least Saturday. But here are some of the known deals:
• A $350 check will be going to several hundred thousand households – those making between $40,000 and $300,000 with at least one child 18 years old and under. The program will begin in 2014, a re-election year for Cuomo and lawmakers.
• The minimum wage would be increased from the current $7.25 an hour to $8 in January and to $9 in 2016. It would not be indexed to the inflation rate, and Silver said talks are still under way as to whether workers paid with tips will be covered.
• Other tax breaks, worth $650 million when most of them are fully phased in next year, include deductions for businesses to cover the minimum wage hike for workers under age 20; tax breaks for some companies that hire teens between 16 and 19 years old in summer jobs, and a tax credit for companies hiring veterans. An additional tax on millionaires, due to expire in 2014, also will be continued to raise money for next year.
While school districts won’t know their state aid allotments for several days, Cuomo officials said the agreement adds about $110 million beyond a $890 million increase Cuomo proposed.
“The budget is very much a budget that is about creating jobs and cutting taxes,’’ Cuomo said.
Pushed to the side, for now, is resolution of changes to the state’s new gun-control law and whether to relax criminal penalties for relatively small amounts of marijuana possession, a matter that angered upstate Democrats because Cuomo is pressing that the lesser sanctions apply only in New York City.
Earlier in the day, lawmakers raised concerns that Cuomo has been trying to grab too much power over how state economic development money is spent through the 10 regional councils around the state.
The economic development issue is a sensitive one. The economic development councils are seen as Cuomo vehicles to disperse state cash, and while some lawmakers were put on the groups last year, Silver himself said he was denied basic information about even who was applying for grant money.
Cuomo acknowledged the issue was a topic for discussion, but defended the way his administration has given out economic development funding the past two years.
Some confusion went unresolved. Earlier on Wednesday Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, said the minimum wage will not be hiked for thousands of workers, such as waiters, because with tips they already make more than the $7.25 minimum wage. But Silver said Wednesday night the issue is still unresolved.
Lawmakers said they killed Cuomo’s plan to expand the Lottery’s Quick Draw game, which gambling-treatment experts say is especially addictive. “That’s not happening,’’ said one top legislator.
Another major snag all day was an effort by Cuomo to relax marijuana possession laws. But his plan would only apply to New York City, where minorities have said police target young blacks and Latinos. The idea drew sharp rebukes from upstate Democratic lawmakers, including Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Buffalo Democrat, who called the proposal unfair to young people in upstate cities.
“If we allow it to be an option for New York City, we should allow it to be an option for Buffalo and other upstate communities,’’ the lawmaker said.
Apparently dead is an Assembly Democratic plan to give state college aid to children of illegal immigrants, as well as a move to give more unrestricted money to cities, towns and villages in New York. The sides agreed to let localities essentially borrow against future employee pension costs as a way to lower current obligations, but details were sketchy.
In all, the business and personal tax cuts will total $650 million, but the majority of that will not be seen until election year in 2014.