ALBANY –- It may be Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of the State, but the leaders of the Legislature are using the event this afternoon to lay out their own priorities for the coming session.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said his conference will press for an increase in the state’s current $7.25 per hour minimum wage rate and a new infusion of cash for community colleges.
Silver called it "absurd" to expect workers to afford the cost of living with a minimum wage salary. An increase in the hike –- to a level he did not specify -– would affect 1.2 million workers in the state. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wage levels.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, told a packed convention center near the Capitol that the session should feature a relaxation of state-imposed mandates on localities and no additional tax or fee hikes to balance the upcoming budget.
The two spoke on stage shortly before Cuomo began his speech at 2:15 p.m. today.
Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, in introducing Cuomo, repeated many of his previous glowing assessments of the governor over the past year. He then admitted the obvious. "I’m proud to be cheerleader-in-chief," Duffy said.