ALBANY, N.Y., March 29 (UPI) -- The New York Legislature approved a $135 billion budget that included a $9 minimum wage and a middle-class tax rebate paid for by the "millionaires tax."
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein, Senate Majority Coalition co-leaders and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced early Friday the passage of the 2013-14 budget before the April 1 deadline -- marking a state budget approved before the deadline for the third year in a row.
"When I took office more than two years ago, New York was at a crossroads, with families and businesses leaving our state and a government that had lost the trust and confidence of the people. Year after year the budgets were late and the entire process had become a symbol for the dysfunction and chaos of Albany," Cuomo said in a statement.
"After years of out of control spending, for the third year in a row we have an on-time budget that holds spending growth under 2 percent."
The budget raised the minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $9/hour over three years, beginning with $8 by the end of 2013, $8.75 by the end of 2014, and $9 by the end of 2015, the governor said.
The budget included $1.23 billion in new tax cuts to middle-class families over three years. Families with incomes between $40,000 and $300,000 who have a child age 17 or under will be eligible to receive a child tax credit of $350 per year, beginning in 2014. The credits will be paid for, in part, by an extension of a tax surcharge on couples earning more than $2 million annually, the "millionaires tax," which had been scheduled expire next year. This tax raises about $2 billion annually. An energy surtax, also scheduled to expire, was extended.
The budget also included nearly $800 million in tax relief for New York businesses over three years.
In addition, to help New York's returning soldiers and young people find work, the budget included a permanent tax credit for the hiring of veterans and tax credits for businesses that hire youth.
As part of the budget, the Legislature closed two prisons -- Bayview in Manhattan and Beacon in Dutchess County. Bayview had been evacuated and has remained vacant as a result of Hurricane Sandy. These closures will reduce annual operating costs of the Department of Corrections and Community Services by $20 million and eliminate 432 excess beds. The budget also allocated $11 million in funding to alternatives to incarceration and employment programs to reduce recidivism.