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State budget talks stretch into weekend as deadline looms

State budget talks stretch into weekend as deadline looms

New York state budget negotiations stretched into the weekend as legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo w
State budget talks stretch into weekend as deadline looms
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, center, walks through the War Room to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office at the Capitol with press secretary Michael Whyland, left, and Counsel to the Speaker Jim Yates on Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Albany, N.Y.
Photographer: The Associated Press

New York state budget negotiations stretched into the weekend as legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo worked Saturday to resolve differences over school funding, teacher evaluations and a minimum wage hike before the new fiscal year begins.

Cuomo told reporters he's optimistic lawmakers will agree to his top priorities: greater disclosure of lawmakers' outside income and education proposals, including revised teacher evaluations that put greater emphasis on student test performance.

"On the Assembly side, I would say the main issue is working through education," Cuomo said. "On the Senate side, the main issue is working through ethics."

The talks are expected to continue into Sunday. Lawmakers hope to strike a deal in time for votes on the agreement Monday or Tuesday. The new fiscal year begins Wednesday.

Cuomo has proposed $1.1 billion in additional school funding if lawmakers approve his education measures. Lawmakers want a bigger increase and say a commission or the state Board of Regents should recommend evaluation changes.

On ethics, the governor is pushing a plan to require lawmakers to disclose more about their income from outside jobs — and if they are attorneys, the identities of their big clients. The Assembly's Democratic majority agreed but the Republican majority in the Senate raised concerns about client confidentiality and what they say are a lack of ethics reforms that apply to the executive branch.

On Friday, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said he believed a deal would be worked out.

Meanwhile, a minimum wage increase sought by Assembly Democrats appears blocked by Senate Republicans, who have demanded property tax relief in exchange.

The wage is now $8.75 and is set to rise to $9 at year's end.

Cuomo has suggested raising the wage to $10.50 statewide and $11.50 in New York City. Democrats in the Assembly support raising it to $12.60 statewide and $15 in the New York City metropolitan area by the end of 2018.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Saturday he's still pushing for an increase, but Cuomo conceded it might have to wait for a vote later in the legislative session.

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