By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- Democrats say they have a "conceptual'' deal to raise the state's current $7.25 minimum wage beginning Jan. 1. That means, in the Albany linkage world, there must be a "conceptual'' deal by Republicans for their main wish list: lowering personal income and small business taxes.
But a conceptual deal can still take some time to materialize in Albany, and lawmakers are now openly talking about the budget not getting done until Friday or maybe as late as next Monday. (For reporters covering the Capitol, using the term "conceptual'' offers a free pass in case the deals fall apart and so that we can then say the agreements were only conceptual or tentative.)
Senate Republicans this afternoon privately said the exact amounts of the tax cut package have not yet been conferenced behind closed doors by GOP lawmakers. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders met briefly this afternoon, but reported no deals.
"It's percolating,'' Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said outside his office about 3 p.m. today.
Under the deal Democrats believe they have secured, the minimum wage would rise possibly to $8 next January and then to $9 in the third year of the phase-in period. It would not, as they had sought, be indexed annually to the inflation rate, and Republicans have lost out on their bid to exclude workers under the age of 20 in certain sectors; they wanted a "training wage'' for those employees out of fear, especially upstate, that employers would lay off workers if faced with a mandatory wage hike for workers.