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Cuomo Talks Minimum Wage, 2013 Budget At SUNY Purchase

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed media after giving a speech at SUNY Purchase on Thursday, March 7. Video Credit: Brian Donnelly

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo told students and faculty at SUNY Purchase Thursday that he is confident New York State will raise the minimum wage in 2013, but wouldn’t speculate if his proposed increase to $8.75 will remain in the 2013 budget.

Cuomo’s proposed $142.6 billion budget for 2013 increases minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75. The state legislature must approve a budget by March 31 and Cuomo said he believes they will meet that deadline for a third consecutive year. He said if the minimum wage provision isn’t included in the final budget it will be done right after.

“I’d like to get it done in the budget,” he told reporters after his speech Thursday. “If it’s not done by April, we’ll get it done by June.”

Minimum wage has increased 10 cents per hour in the last six years, going from $7.15 to $7.25 an hour in 2009. The New York State Assembly passed legislation on Tuesday that, if approved by the State Senate, would increase minimum wage to $9 an hour, with automatic increases tied to inflation.

The governor also noted the budget has not been passed on time in three consecutive years since 1984 when his father, Mario Cuomo, was governor.

“My father got two budgets done on time, this would be my third budget done on time,” he said. “Not that I want to be competitive with the old man.”

Cuomo outlined several initiatives in the proposed budget, which include providing funding to make pre-kindergarten full-time and extending school hours and/or the school year. Cuomo said the state would leave the decision to the 700 school districts in New York State, but would incentivize them to increase the time students spend in school by covering 100 percent of the cost of any additional school time.

“Other countries spend more time educating their children,” Cuomo said. “I believe we need to move in that direction of more school time.

School aid represents 28 percent of state spending, or $20.8 billion. This is a year-to-year increase of $611 million. Cuomo said Thursday this doesn’t yield enough of a return on job creation because students with the “next great idea” take it out of state because of New York’s high taxes. Cuomo proposed creating New Innovation Hot Spots, a public private partnership that would allow a new business developed in school to pay no taxes while it grows. In return, the business would have to commit to stay in New York and hire New Yorkers.

“They’re not commercializing New York because we still have this hangover reputation of being bad on businesses,” Cuomo said. “That business while it is growing will pay no taxes whatsoever. So they can’t get better deals because they won’t be paying any taxes period.”

The Business Council of Westchester has also addressed the issue of youth leaving Westchester County and the state after school .

Cuomo said he will not sign a budget that has any new taxes and that reforms to health insurance and pension costs will reduce the cost of business by $1.3 billion this year.