Minimum Wage Debate Holding Up Budget Talks as Deadline Approaches

One week away from the state budget deadline and there are still key issues lawmakers are working to come together on, one of those being -- the minimum wage debate. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- As potential compromises to increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 leak out, groups on both sides of the issue are unhappy. For business leaders, they hope Senate Republicans remove the measure entirely from the budget talks.

"What we're saying is. We know this issue is at the one yard line. The Senate needs to reject it. They need to pull it out of the budget. It's not a fiscal issue. It's not related to the fiscal health of the state," said Mike Durant, the NFIB executive director.

A deal could include wage modifications for agriculture-based businesses. At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo may seek a longer, multi-tiered phased in for the wage increase for different parts of the state. But Mike Durant of the National Federation Of Independent Business says that won't offset the costs.

"Fifteen dollars has not occurred outside of some select municipalities. This would be a statewide $15 an hour minimum wage. So study it," Durant said.

Labor groups meanwhile aren't happy with the potential for upstate New York being excluded from the $15 target all together.

"It's not acceptable. The idea that upstate New York by 2021 could get $12 an hour which in my way of thinking institutionalizes poverty for the folks working for these low wages," said Mark Emanatian, the Capital District organizer - Citizen Action.

Supporters of the $15 minimum wage say excluding upstate New York could hurt the region's economy, making it difficult for low wage workers to make ends meet and even send workers downstate, where wages would be higher.

"To think that Glens Falls, Saratoga, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Troy -- any of these places could live on $12 and not be a livable wage is just crazy," said Emanatian.

Rank and file lawmakers were not at the Capitol on Thursday though budget talks continued. The spending plan itself is due by April 1 and the legislature is scheduled to return Monday.

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