- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Raising New York’s minimum wage must be a part of negotiations over the state budget, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Wednesday as the closed-door wrangling over the budget continued ahead of a deadline next week.

The Bronx Democrat’s comments came after Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos said there’s been no serious discussion about a wage hike on the Senate side.

Heastie’s Assembly Democrats have proposed gradually raising the wage to $12.60 statewide and $15 in the New York City metropolitan area by the end of 2018. The wage is now $8.75 and will go to $9 at year’s end.

“It has to be on the table as far as we’re concerned,” Heastie told reporters.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports raising the minimum to $10.50 statewide and $11.50 within New York City.

Heastie’s demand is the latest to emerge from the ongoing debate over the budget, which lawmakers and Cuomo hope to pass by April 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.

Teacher evaluations and legislative income disclosure continue to dominate the back-room discussions over the budget. Cuomo’s $142 billion spending recommendation contained proposals to make evaluations more focused on student test performance. The Democratic governor had also called for greater disclosure of lawmakers’ outside income, including the identities of many legal clients.

Lawmakers so far have balked, with the Assembly’s Democratic majority fighting Cuomo’s education reforms and the Senate’s GOP majority opposing the income disclosure.

Meanwhile, Cuomo concedes he may have to leave out several other priorities he had wanted in the budget, including the authorization of 100 additional charter schools; a tax credit for donations to public or private schools; and the Dream Act, which would extend financial aid to students in the country illegally.

The governor said Tuesday he hopes the Legislature takes up those issues later in the session once the budget is passed.

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