Capitol Bureau

A new poll finds most New Yorkers do not think giving the state’s top politicians a pay raise is a good idea right now.

Some lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, have been saying recently that lawmakers “deserve” a pay raise, and have suggested setting up a commission, but a new poll by Siena College finds voters are opposed by a two to one margin, with 67% opposed and 31% in support.  Siena’s Steve Greenberg says those surveyed like the idea of a pay hike for the governor and his top commissioners even less, with 74% against and 25% in favor.

This week’s New York NOW on WXXI-TV features a one-on-one interview with longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D- Manhattan).  

This week he put out a proposal that would raise New York's minimum wage to $8.50 per hour in January of 2013. It will surely pass his chamber, but is the governor on board?   

Silver sat down with WXXI Capitol Bureau Correspondent Karen DeWitt of New York State Public Radio. He also talked about why he's pushing for a pay raise for his fellow lawmakers.

A coalition of labor unions, religious groups, and others are urging Governor Cuomo and the legislature to close what they say are loopholes in the law that protect large corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.

Ron Deutsch, with New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, says the state could begin to close its $2 billion dollar budget deficit and have more money for schools and health care if it began collecting more taxes on corporations and other businesses who the groups believe are underpaying right now.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is out with a report on the state of New York’s economy, and the news is bleak.

The Comptroller’s numbers show that the already sluggish economic recovery in New York is losing momentum. The slowdown began in the second half of 2011, and is expected to continue into 2012, says Comptroller DiNapoli. 

 “That trend is going to be with us, at least for the short term,” said DiNapoli.  

Governor Cuomo told county leaders gathered for their annual meeting that he would meet them half way in providing mandate relief in the form of helping to defray health care and future pension costs. But he told the county officials, it’s up to them to do the rest.  

Governor Cuomo, in a speech to the county leaders that repeated many of the points of his budget presentation,  says he’s working on mandate relief  that will help the counties live within the recently imposed 2% property tax cap.

Governor Cuomo says the possibility of three primary elections in New York this year is not in anyone’s best interest.

A federal judge has already ruled that congressional primaries must be held June 26th. While Assembly Democrats would like statewide primaries to also be held on that date, Senate Republicans prefer an August  primary.  If no action is taken, the statewide primaries will automatically fall on September 11th this year. The presidential primary is in April. Governor Cuomo says having three separate primaries is “less than ideal”.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continues to push for his bill to increase the state’s minimum wage. In an interview with public radio, the Speaker also expressed reservations about Governor Cuomo’s plan to offer an option of 401 k retirement plans for future state workers.

Assembly Speaker Silver has made increasing the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour one of his top priorities this year.  

“Nobody in our country who works a full week should be poor,” Silver said. “But today minimum wage earners are poor by all standards.”

The Legislative task force on redistricting held its first meeting since new proposed maps were released. Lawmakers heard numerous accusations that the new lines were “gerrymandered” and say the proposed maps are not set in stone.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced his bill to increase the state’s minimum wage from the present $7.25 an hour to $8.50, saying its “absurd” to think that anyone can make a living on the current amount.

A one paragraph clause in Governor Cuomo’s budget has caused some concern among state lawmakers over the separation of powers between the governor and the legislature.

It’s one short paragraph in the hundreds of pages in Governor Cuomo’s budget plan, and it’s repeated in several different places. It says, essentially, that the governor’s budget office can move money around in state agencies to consolidate business services, like information technology and other functions, without the permission of the legislature.