What are the legislature’s priorities?
State lawmakers are working on some last minute initiatives before the legislative session ends in June. Our Nick Reisman has more.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Lawmakers return to Albany on Wednesday with just 13 days left in the legislative session. Though that's relatively little time, Governor Andrew Cuomo will continue his push for the creation of the Justice Center in order to stem abuse and neglect of the developmentally disabled.
“One of the legislators said to me if it takes another year, so what? That attitude I find deplorable because I said if you're the person being abused a year is a very long time,” Cuomo said.
Though legislation tends to be linked together into mega deals, Cuomo says he doesn't want to see that with the Justice Center legislation. Still, he's open to negotiating the measure which already passed the GOP-controlled Senate, but has stalled in the Democratic-led Assembly.
Cuomo said, “I want to get a bill passed this session, but I never said my bill take it or leave it.”
Lawmakers are also working under the cloud of an election year. All 212 seats plus a new Senate district are up for grabs this fall and the conferences are playing to their base. Democrats in the Assembly continue to insist on increasing the state's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour and tying it to inflation.
“We continue to make the popular case for raising the minimum wage,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, will pass a $450 million tax cut package this week.
“This is about job creation; it's not about killing jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said.
Lawmakers must also deal with how much information on teacher evaluations should be made public. Those negotiations stalled after lawmakers quietly dealt with another topic: How to reorganize the New York Racing Association.
“We want to make sure that the evaluation process is fair to all the teachers and that is discussions going on,” Skelos said.
Though the session ends June 21, there is some talk of finishing up work by June 14. And there is always the possibility that after Election Day, lawmakers may return in December to boost the minimum wage and their own pay as well.