SUNY Leadership Breaks With Cuomo Over Proposed Tuition Hike

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Top officials at SUNY broke Wednesday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo over a proposed tuition increase at the state's public universities. 

"We don't want a tuition increase. We don't know anybody who wants a tuition increase. So here's what we're proposing. We're proposing they give us $73 million," said Carl McCall, SUNY Board Of Trustees Chairman.

SUNY's leadership is siding with the Senate and Assembly, which each proposed adding more funding and staving off tuition hikes while also bolstering community colleges.  

"We can continue to make sure the most economically depreived students will continue to get no increase whatsoever," McCall said.

Lawmakers expect a budget agreement in the coming days and do not plan on asking the governor for messages of necessity to speed the process along.

Also on Wednesday, potential compromises in increasing the state's minimum wage emerged, as lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussed a $15 wage for New York City and the surrounding suburbs and a smaller one for upstate counties. 

"They're in different situations," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx. "We all know that downstate and the city of New York is in a different economic situation that upstate New York."

Sources say one proposal on the table would be to hike the wage to $15 for New York City over three years. Long Island and Westchester would have a $15 wage in four years. Upstate New York's minimum wage would be lower, likely under $13.

Republicans are also pushing to remove the governor's power of raising the wage through a labor board. 

"We have Senator (John) DeFrancisco has legislation to repeal the wage board. That's certainly a position the Senate has staked out, but frankly that was long before we got into the budget," said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown.

It's likely that farm-based businesses would receive some sort of a carve out in the wage agreement. 

"Our conference has always been very supportive of agriculture as you know, but talks continue and we'll see what happens next," said Senate Finance Committee Chair Cathy Young, R-Olean.

Business groups aren't on board with any of the proposed modifications, making the negotiations complicated for the Senate Republicans.  

"We're getting a lot of input from outside folks and their advocacy is a reflection of some of the discussions we're having internally," Flanagan said.

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