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Assembly passes minimum wage bill

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Albany/HV: Assembly passes minimum wage bill
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Assembly Democrats passed a minimum wage hike, but as Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports, there are still hurdles before the bill would become law.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Assembly Democrats easily passed a minimum wage hike Tuesday, but if the measure ultimately becomes law, either in the final budget or later this year, remains in doubt.

“Whether it's done this month or next month or the month after really doesn't make a difference. The important thing is that it gets done,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.

The Assembly's bill increases the wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour and ties future increases to the rate of inflation, a mirror of President Obama's proposal on the federal level. Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget would increase it to $8.75.

On Tuesday, a top Republican in the Senate seemed resigned to some form of an increase being approved, but said any deal would have to be coupled with tax cuts for businesses.

“We have to be realistic. We know that something's going to take place, but we also have to give protections to businesses. I mean, I have a lot friends when I go back home who own diners, they own restaurants. I think the service industry needs to have some protection,” said State Senator Tom Libous.

Libous also says that it's best to do the wage hike outside of the budget in order to negotiate the provisions for businesses.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, last week, agreed on a final revenue figure for the budget, finding that there was $200 million more in funds than Cuomo's spending proposal initially estimated. Now there's a push to restore funding cuts to a variety of areas in the budget.

Silver said, “We're obviously concerned about the proposed mental health cut. We are concerned about education aid, whether we would like to see it enhanced. We would like to see some health care additions as well.”

Cuomo on Monday denied there was any major roadblock at this point to an on-time budget, even as legislative leaders are skeptical an agreement on locating up to three casinos north of New York City can be reached.

Cuomo said, “Minimum wage, casinos, they are tricky. The numbers are tricky. All of these issues are difficult. It's a tough economy, state has a lot of needs, so it's a difficult time to do the budget. But I can't say at this point what's the sticking point. There is no sticking point right now.”

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