Cuomo Signs Budget; Answers SAFE Act Questions

11:54 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a ceremonial budget signing at UB's south campus in Buffalo on Tuesday morning.

WEB EXTRA: Watch Governor Cuomo's entire address in the video player on this page.

Cuomo was scheduled to visit the U.B. South Campus Monday, but the trip was put off due to the weather. More budget signings are expected in other parts of the state later this week.

Lawmakers completed passage of the $135 billion budget late Thursday night, three days before the March 31 deadline. That gave the state its third-consecutive on-time budget.

Cuomo and legislative leaders call the spending plan a family-friendly, business-friendly and middle-class-friendly budget.

The Governor was also asked about the SAFE act and how it was passed into law in a short amount of time. Two On Your Side's Dave McKinley report on the new gun law can be viewed on this page.

For his part Cuomo continued to insist (as he has from the onset of the legislation) that gun control had been the subject of debate long before he took the step of presenting a host of new gun restrictions to lawmakers two months ago, as message of necessity.

However, by doing so, Cuomo was able to skirt the usual three day waiting period for bills before they are voted on, thereby eliminating the chance for the opposition to marshal its lobbying forces.

Instead, they've been forced into to a position of trying to lobby for amendments to an already passed bill , while also mounting court challenges.

"I think everyone would agree there has been amble opportunity over the past two months to comment and there's been a lot of comment, and we have an amendment in this budget, but the bill basically stands as is after all the reflection and all the discussion. Now does everybody agree? No," Cuomo said, answering his own question.

Critics of Cuomo's stance that there has been "amble opportunity" to comment say he conveniently forgets that the opportunity only came after the bill was signed into law. 

Cuomo continued to insist the gun control laws will save lives, while critics , including the NYS Sheriff's Association and other law enforcement groups, contend it won't do anything but give criminals an advantage over law abiding citizens who might wish to defend themselves.

One example of an amendment noted by Cuomo, was the relaxing of the ban on magazines of more than 7 rounds. Instead, gun owners will be on an "honor system", of loading no more than 7 rounds into a 10 round magazine... something opponents say criminals-- who tend not to obey laws in the first place --are not likely to be so "honorable" about.

While in Buffalo, Cuomo also defended a controversial and unusual aspect of the minimum wage hike, which he fought for, which would have taxpayers footing the bill for the raise to be extended to certain minimum wage earners-- namely teenagers who are in school.

"It really involves only a small percentage of workers," Cuomo told WGRZ-TV, in describing a reimbursement credit that goes back to employers, to recover a portion of the higher wages they will be forced to pay as New York gradually increases the minimum wage to $9/hr. in 2016.

Cuomo said it was an done in an effort to raise the minimum wage while addressing the biggest bone of contention in doing so; the impact on businesses.

"We felt the (current) minimum wage of $7.25 was too low, but we didn't want to inadvertently hurt businesses in raising we needed to find a compromise" Cuomo said.

Though supporters of the measure paint a scenario of it being helpful to small businesses, who fear that paying higher wages might break them, it is also true that multi-billion dollar corporations like WalMart and McDonald's (where many teens are employed) would also benefit from the tax credit, which is estimated to cost New Yorkers $20 million to $40 million in next fiscal year alone.

As well, the Fiscal Policy Institute suggests the law could lead to older workers being denied jobs in favor of teenagers, because they get a cash benefit by hiring teens.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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