NY Budget Deadline Nears, With Talk of Legislators' Pay Hike

Related: Child Victims' Act Stalled; Tax Reform Study Shows NY Hit Hard

Dave Debo
March 29, 2018 - 5:59 am

AP Photo

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(WBEN/AP) New York lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo are working to pass a new state budget ahead of the Easter and Passover weekends, and while the sweeping tax reforms the governor first spoke of last year are not included, the possibility of a pay raise for lawmakers is.

The raise for state lawmakers has emerged as a bargaining chip  as the governor and legislative leaders work to pass a new budget ahead of a deadline.

Sunday is the start of a new state fiscal year and the deadline for a new budget. But lawmakers want to finish in time for the Jewish Passover, which begins Friday at sundown, or Christian Easter, which is Sunday.

Senate Leader John Flanagan said after meeting Tuesday evening with Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein that a pay raise for legislators is being discussed.

Lawmakers are paid $79,500 a year, not including stipends they can earn for leadership posts.

The budget is expected to total around $170 billion and lawmakers must strike deals on a variety of budget proposals, including some that have little to do with state finances. They include a new uniform sexual harassment policy for state workers and officials, a new tax on opioid manufacturers and a plan to impose surcharges on taxi and Uber rides in the heart of Manhattan.

Hear Sen. Tim Kennedy on the WBEN Liveline:

Other Budget Issues:

 The Child Victim's Act:   The measure, which was pushed by several groups working with those who were abused by priests, is not likely to be in the final budget package, according to NYS Sen. Tim Kennedy (above)

The Child Victims Act would extend criminal and civil statutes of limitations going forward and create a one-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers even if the current statute of limitations on civil suits has passed. The last provision is most contentious and is opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America and other large institutions who say they could be financially devastated if the bill becomes law.

The bill would raise the statute of limitations for criminal cases to 28 and increase the civil statute of limitations to age 50. Survivors say the one-year litigation window is also critical, because many victims aren't capable of stepping forward until decades after the abuse.

Tax Reform: Amendments to the Governor's proposed budget submitted early last month still include substituting the state income tax with a voluntary payroll tax  to try and restore the deductions removed at the federal level late last year.

The plan would be phased in over three years, with 1.5 percent collected the first year, 3 percent the second year and 5 percent the third year.  The plan would also create charitible funds for health care and education, allowing New Yorkers to send a deductible payment there in lieu of certain taxes.

Lawmakers have seemed reluctant to go ahead with the plan, despite a new survey from WalletHub.com that says New York state is hit harder than all but two other states by the federal changes.  The study (READ IT HERE) looked at which income groups will be hurt by the federal changes, and then correlated it to populations in each state in each of those groups.

 Casino aid: In the early talks, Cuomo is pouring cold water on the idea of giving state assistance for a struggling upstate casino.  The Democrat told reporters Wednesday that he doesn't want the state to get into the business of bailing out private businesses.

His opposition to new subsidies for the del Lago Resort and Casino is likely to sink a proposal to reduce the amount del Lago pays to the state each year. That idea was floated Tuesday during negotiations over a new state budget.

Del Lago opened last year in the Finger Lakes, one of four new upstate gambling facilities authorized by voters. Del Lago said in a statement that the casino is having a hard time competing with casinos owned by the Seneca Nation of Indians.

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