Legislators say they expect to vote on a state budget by next week making for an extra-early budget. Of course lots could happen between then and now but legislative leaders continue to meet today and have hashed out their spending targets.
The joint budget conference announced they have agreed to $550 million in "table target" spending. Other targets include $60 million for health spending, $70 million for higher education, $40 million for mental hygiene and $35 million for human services.
Other parts of the budget remain elusive. It is unclear whether casino siting and a minimum wage increase will be in the budget. Advocates have swamped Albany online and in the Twitterverse targeting Sens. Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein to raise the minimum wage. Cuomo supports a $8.75 hike, while the Assembly has passed a $9 hike. The Senate budget supports an unspecified wage hike that would be phased in in installments.
A number of advocates have been focusing on Klein specifically because he and the Independent Democrats joined with Republicans to create a coalition while saying they support a minimum wage hike. Republicans have been vocal in their opposition to a wage hike.
“The time for excuses is over. Given the tremendous support by voters, community, faith, labor and business leaders, the minimum wage should have been increased last year," said Mark Dunlea of Hunger Action in a statement. "A majority of State Senators want to join the Assembly in raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour, with indexing. Sen. Klein has to show that his power arrangement agreement is something more than a charade to thwart the democratic will of voters and to distribute patronage to the minority Republicans and their IDC enabler."