Budget Deadline Looming: Upstate Dems Hold on $15 Wage as Negotiations Continue

Monday was supposed to be the last day lawmakers could print bills for the upcoming budget. With controversial issues like a $15 per hour minimum wage and paid family leave, it has all three sides of the legislature divided. But as Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman explains, all signs point to a deal between lawmakers and the governor coming to a head in the near future.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Agreements on increasing the state's minimum wage to $15 and creating a paid family leave program remained elusive on Monday at the state Capitol -- and that means a deal on the state budget is not there yet.

"Paid family leave and minimum wage are absolutely part of the discussion on the final budget," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Under discussion now is a minimum wage that would increase to $12.50 or $13 upstate and then link future increases to the rate of inflation. This doesn't sit well with some Democrats from the upstate region.

"I think the speaker is well aware of the upstate Democrats' concerns. I think the problem that we have right now is the Senate Republicans from upstate are not on board with doing anything upstate at all. So this is really just a compromise. But if it's up to the upstate Democrats, we'd like to see one wage for the whole state," said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D-Utica.

But Heastie says part of getting things done is finding ways to compromise.

"Albany is the art of the compromise and we'll see what happens at the end of the day on the minimum wage and on paid family leave, but the members are fully aware that sometimes you have to compromise up here in Albany," the speaker said.

Over in the Senate, Republicans there were less forthcoming on details.

The minimum wage proposal as backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is a potentially difficult lift for Senate Republicans, whose allies in the business community oppose the agreement. Republican lawmakers were tight-lipped on Monday about the talks. 

"Everything's still fluid," said state Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope.

Meanwhile Monday, California became the first state in the nation to back a $15 minimum wage that would be phased in by 2022. State lawmakers here in New York insist the California development has no baring on what happens here. 

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