ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo may hit state lawmakers in their wallets if they fail to adopt an on-time budget and don’t pass any ethics reforms.
As budget talks bogged down at the Capitol on Wednesday, a source close to Cuomo told the Daily News that the governor would likely oppose any pay raises for lawmakers if they miss Thursday’s budget deadline or fail to adopt ethics reforms before the Legislature’s session ends in June.
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A special commission is currently studying the pay of lawmakers and executive branch members but cannot recommend salary increases without at least one of Cuomo’s appointees signing off on them.
The governor, during a session with reporters, did not deny that he’d stand against lawmakers’ raises.
“Performance matters,” Cuomo said. “If they don’t pass a budget on time, obviously that is a failure of performance. Ethics reform, is going to be important.”
Lawmakers shrugged off Cuomo’s not-so-veiled threat as negotiating ploy.
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“What matters most is a good budget that meets the needs of our citizens,” said Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx). “That's what New Yorkers expect and that is what we are fighting for.”
Cuomo’s threat came as the prospects for a late budget grew larger with the governor and legislative leaders unable to finalize deals on a handful of key issues — including the governor’s desire to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour .
As of Wednesday evening, budget bills had yet to be printed, shortening the time for lawmakers to review and debate them before the midnight Thursday deadline.
"No ethics reforms to speak of, messages of necessity for (almost) every bill, and an overall budget that is barreling towards being late-sounds like we’re slipping back to the bad old days," said Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).
The Senate’s Democratic minority also made it clear that they intended to thoroughly review and debate the budget, even if it costs Cuomo an on-time adoption.
A key sticking point remained the minimum wage, with the Senate’s GOP majority — especially its upstate members — still expressing reservations about the plan.
“That’s definitely an issue with a lot of people upstate,” said Sen. Rich Funke (R-Monroe County). “It’s too much upstate.”
The latest proposal calls for the city’s minimum wage to reach $15-an-hour within three years but it includes a much implementation upstate. There’s also a “safety mechanism” that could halt the increases upstate after three years if, after a review by the state’s budget office, it’s deemed to be harming the economy.
“The last thing I want is anything that slows the growth of the upstate economy,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled Assembly, meanwhile, appeared to be making progress in resolving the dispute over the governor’s call for up to $250 million in Medicaid savings.
Heastie told reporters they were working on bill language that would ensure that the city was not overly penalized by the savings push.
“It would just be very hard to ask 62 members who represent the City of New York including myself to be OK with that kind of a hit to the City of New York,” Heastie said.
Lawmakers and Cuomo also appeared to be near an agreement on an income tax cut for families with incomes under $300,000 a year that would cost the state about $1 billion over eight years.