New York state budget deal includes minimum wage hike, tax cuts

NEW YORK, March 21 Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:05pm EDT

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NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York state legislative leaders have agreed upon a $135 billion budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 that raises the minimum wage, gives tax breaks to middle-class families and businesses, and extends a tax on high earners, Cuomo said late Wednesday.

The deal was announced in Albany, the state capital, after days of closed-door wrangling as lawmakers sought to reconcile three separate proposals.

The agreement paves the way for a vote by the legislature after a three-day period set aside for public consideration, setting this year's budget on course to be the third in a row to be passed on time. The budget could be the earliest since 1976.

Cuomo, a Democrat, said the deal was still subject to minor changes, but said the vote could take place on Saturday or Sunday - well ahead of the deadline on April 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

"The numbers that we are giving you are approximate. We are still dotting i's and crossing t's," Cuomo said. "We are going to be working on the details going forward."

The state's minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, would rise to $9 an hour by 2015, if the budget is approved by the legislature. That would be accompanied by a business tax cut that includes phasing out a tax on utility companies over three years starting in 2014-2015. The business tax cut includes breaks for business that employ young people and veterans.

Middle-class families with children will get a tax cut of $350. The agreement defines middle class as those earning $40,000 to $300,000 per year. A surcharge on high-earning couples, making over $2 million a year, however, will be kept.

With the Passover and Easter holidays falling early this year, lawmakers are aiming to sign off on the bill this weekend. Passover begins at sundown on Monday. Easter Sunday is March 31.

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