With the calendar turning to March, the pace of state budget lobbying is picking up. Advocates are trying to influence the one-house budget proposals from the Senate and Assembly which will be approved by the middle of the month. A big focus is on the $15 minimum wage proposal and paid family leave in addition to many other issues. Advocates for paid family leave are hoping to see the program included in the Senate budget. The Assembly already passed it and will include it in its budget proposal.
The Republican controlled Senate keeps expressing interest in the proposal though they want to limit the impact on business and not increase disability benefits which is part of the Assembly proposal. There has been some alternatives suggested such as limiting the number of weeks allowed which would stake out a different position to open negotiations. Meanwhile, Senate Jeff Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Caucus has his own proposal which in some ways is even more generous that what the Assembly passed.
Meanwhile Governor Cuomo is barnstorming the state in a campaign style fashion. He has boarded a bus to push for paid family leave and the minimum wage hike under the banner of the “Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice.” Now, television ads are airing with Cuomo and his father speaking. Cuomo was scheduled to participate with AARP in a tele-town hall meeting today on paid family leave.
Upstate businesses are pushing back against the minimum wage proposal and on Monday, organizations representing disability programs said the budget has to include funds for nonprofit organizations with state contracts to pay for the increase to $15/hour. Home health agencies and others with state contracts have also been lobbying for funding to cover the proposed increase.