Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders said earlier today after their meeting that they are closing in on a budget agreement and expect to have bills ready to vote on by Thursday, the last day of the fiscal year. In order to vote on the bills which normally require three days to “age,” Governor Cuomo will have to issue a “message of necessity” to allow votes before the three days after bills land on the desks of legislators. The bills could be in print by tonight.
Specific details were not released until legislators were briefed on the details. However, the Governor and legislative leaders gave general information, saying the budget will include a paid family leave program and an increase in the minimum wage to $15/hour over several years though it isn’t clear if all areas of the state will have that wage level. It is expected that there will be different phase in periods for at least three regions of the state.
Final details of the paid family leave program were still being negotiated however, advocates are optimistic and hopeful that the program that will be voted on will be a good one without unacceptable changes from what has been proposed by the Governor and the Assembly. Senator Jeff Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Caucus told the media he was pleased with the negotiations on the program which he has been supporting in some form for the last few years.
Passage will be a major victory for one of the broadest coalitions ever assembled of labor, faith organizations, public interest, health care and human services advocates. The legislative campaign became a primary focus of many organizations who have argued that it part of a family and worker friendly agenda that reflects changing economic and family situations. Just a year ago, the Assembly passed the bill but Governor Cuomo said there was “no appetite” for the program and Senate was saying it was only willing to consider it. However, when the Governor reversed course and decided to include the measure in his budget and go all out to support it and the minimum wage, the political dynamics changed. His advocacy along with an increasing sense that income inequality was a major social problem and a major issue in the presidential campaign in this election year, legislative support quickly grew.
We will know the details of this program tomorrow when the bill is in print.