Spending, medical pot likely focus of Cuomo speech

By Michael Virtanen

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 5 2014 11:28 a.m. MST

Speaker Sheldon Silver, who heads the Assembly's large Democratic majority, has called again for tying New York's minimum wage to the inflation rate. In an agreement with the Senate and governor last year, it was raised from $7.25 an hour to $8 this year, scheduled to reach $9 by 2016 but without indexing. He also called for passing the Dream Act this year to help young immigrants attend college with access to financial aid and scholarships. He and several colleagues proposed raising subsidies for child care for New York's working poor and authorizing state-paid leave and unemployment for workers who have to take time off to care for a child.

The Senate Republicans say their priority is the tax package proposed in November that would reduce corporate tax rates, make inflation adjustments for state income tax brackets, set a permanent 2 percent cap on state spending growth with all surplus used to cut taxes, make the state's property tax cap permanent and make all retirement income tax-free.

The Independent Democratic Conference, part of that coalition with Republicans controlling the Senate, said it's the biggest champion in Albany of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to establish universal prekindergarten programs. The Democrat proposed taxing New Yorkers with annual incomes of $500,000 or more to fund that program, as well as after-school programs for all middle school students.

The Senate Democratic Conference is calling for economic growth, raising the minimum wage, tax fairness and passing legislation still pending from last year to on women's rights and ethics reform.

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