- Associated Press - Friday, April 1, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The Latest on New York state budget negotiations (all times local):

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12:30 a.m.

The New York state budget is late.

Budget deliberations in the state Senate and Assembly blew past a midnight deadline and into the start of a new fiscal year Friday.



The Senate plans to work into the early morning hours to pass the $156 billion state budget proposal. Members of the Assembly, however, are expected to return later Friday morning for final votes.

On-time budgets have been seen as an indicator of government effectiveness in recent years, and have been a top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Last year’s budget also was late, but only by a few hours.

The highlights of this year’s budget are a modified version of Cuomo’s proposal to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a middle-class tax cut and a program giving workers paid time off to care for a sick relative or new child.

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11:45 p.m.

The $156 billion negotiated budget plan for the fiscal year that starts Friday would provide $24.8 billion in aid to public schools, up $1.3 billion.

The aid supports near 700 school districts with 2.8 million students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

It also eliminates the so-called gap elimination adjustment - the state policy of taking back some school aid to balance the budget that primarily affected many suburban districts.

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11 p.m.

The budget deal includes middle-class state income tax cuts starting in 2018.

The cut would apply to New Yorkers with incomes between $40,000 and $300,000 and rates that currently range from 6.45 percent to 6.65 percent starting in 2018.

The rates would gradually drop to 5.5 percent by 2025.

Administration officials estimate the lower tax rates will save more than 4 million filers nearly $6.6 billion in the first four years, with annual savings reaching $4.2 billion by 2025.

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10:15 p.m.

New York workers will become eligible for paid family leave in 2018 under the budget agreement between the Cuomo administration and legislative leaders.

Alphonso David, counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said the 12 weeks of leave to care for a child or other family member will be funded by worker payroll contributions that will cost from 70 cents a week up to $1.40.

David says it’s expected to benefit millions of New Yorkers.

Benefits will start at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped a half the statewide average weekly wage, rising to 67 percent in 2021.

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9:45 p.m.

New York’s minimum wage will rise to $15 - eventually - under a complicated agreement worked out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers.

The Democratic governor told reporters Thursday night that the series of increases is “calibrated” to match the state’s regional economies. Now $9, the wage would rise to $15 in New York City in three years and on Long Island and in Westchester County in six years.

The wage would increase more gradually upstate, hitting $12.50 in six years. Further increases to $15 tied to economic indicators like inflation.

The proposal is included in a larger $156 billion budget deal that lawmakers plan to vote on late Thursday or early Friday.

California lawmakers voted Thursday to raise their state’s wage to $15 by 2022.

6 p.m.

The Assembly has approved budget legislation for health programs, containing provisions to authorize Medicaid coverage for “high needs” state prison and local jail inmates starting 30 days before their release.

It authorizes seeking federal approval for the change in Medicaid, which is half federally funded.

Another provision would exempt doctors writing fewer than 25 prescriptions annually from having to do it electronically.

It also calls for the Health Department to update on its public website at least every five years its map showing cancer incidence across New York, including clusters and cancer types.

The bill passed 99-35, with minority Republicans criticizing the lack of dollar amounts that they won’t see until later.

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5:30 p.m.

The New York state Senate has begun its budget debate - even though many of the details of the spending plan remain unknown to rank-and-file lawmakers and the public.

Members of the Democratic minority in the Senate repeatedly pushed Senate Finance Chairwoman Catharine Young, a Republican, over the lack of details about the proposal they’re being asked to vote on.

Democratic Sen. Michael Gianaris was ruled out of order after he peppered Young with multiple questions.

Young did confirm some details of the budget, saying it will contain $1 billion in middle-class tax cuts and a record investment in school aid.

Before the debate began Young said final budget negotiations are winding down and she’s optimistic the Senate can pass a budget before Friday.

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5:15 p.m.

The state Assembly has authorized transferring up to $10 million from the workers’ compensation fund to implement paid family leave for New York workers as it passed the first of eight expected budget bills.

Some Republican lawmakers complain it’s an expense for a new program pushed by Democrats that’s supposed to be funded by workers through payroll deductions, the first of many expected surprises.

Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, a Bronx Democrat, says she and the others in the Democratic majority have been regularly briefed and had their individual questions addressed.

Arroyo says they know what’s in the budget proposal, and it’s the first time in 20 years they’ve been able to participate that way.

Speaker Carl Heastie last year replaced ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver, who held the leadership post for two decades.

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3:30 p.m.

The New York Assembly’s minority Republicans are blasting the state budget process, saying they’re being pushed to vote before the new fiscal year begins Friday even though they haven’t yet seen most of the legislative details.

Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin, a Troy Republican, says Thursday afternoon that gives them only about nine hours. “How can we be expected to do our jobs as legislators?” he says.

Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, a ranking member of the Democratic majority, says many parts of the budget and amounts were known already and the changes simply involve shifting funds that they’ll review before later floor debates.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, a Chautauqua (shuh-TAH’-kwah) County Republican, says “We ought to take our time and do it right” and the state isn’t “going to grind to a halt over the weekend.”

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12:30 p.m.

A compromise on the minimum wage being discussed by New York state lawmakers contains a $15 wage for New York City within three years and a significantly longer phase-in for upstate.

The proposal, linked to the state budget, would raise the upstate wage from $9 to $12.50 over five years. Further increases to $15 would be contingent on an economic analysis by the state and could take several more years to be implemented.

That is a far slower increase than the six-year phase-in to $15 initially proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which Republicans had said was far too sharp an increase.

Exemptions for small businesses are another compromise under consideration as Cuomo and lawmakers look to reach a budget deal before the start of a new fiscal year on Friday.

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10:40 a.m.

The budget negotiated by New York’s legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would authorize Medicaid coverage for “high needs” state prison and local jail inmates starting 30 days before their release.

Assembly sponsors pushed the plan, saying it would ensure that the inmates can get prescription medications and services to keep them from relapsing and returning.

The legislation authorizes seeking federal approval for the Medicaid change.

While some budget bills have been printed, most aren’t yet available to lawmakers as negotiations continue Thursday.

The new fiscal year starts Friday.

New York expanded discharge planning last year for inmates getting mental health treatment.

Advocates say the Medicaid change would add services sooner.

Budget health provisions also would exempt doctors writing fewer than 25 prescriptions annually from doing it electronically.

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