Transcript: Mar 27, 2013 12:10 AM

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         NEW YORK STATE SENATE
         THE STENOGRAPHIC RECORD
         ALBANY, NEW YORK
         March 27, 2013
         12:10 a.m.
         REGULAR SESSION


SENATOR DAVID J. VALESKY, Acting President FRANCIS W. PATIENCE, Secretary
         P R O C E E D I N G S
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The Senate will come to order.
         I ask everyone present to please rise and repeat with me the Pledge of Allegiance.
         (Whereupon, the assemblage recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: In the absence of clergy, may we bow our heads in a moment of silence.
         (Whereupon, the assemblage respected a moment of silence.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The reading of the Journal.
         The Secretary will read.
         THE SECRETARY: In Senate, Tuesday, March 26th, the Senate met pursuant to adjournment. The Journal of Monday, March 25th, was read and approved. On motion, Senate adjourned.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Without objection, the Journal stands approved as read.
         Presentation of petitions.
         Messages from the Assembly.
         Messages from the Governor.
         Reports of standing committees.
         Reports of select committees.
         Communications and reports from state officers.
         Motions and resolutions.
         Senator Libous.
        
SENATOR LIBOUS: Mr. President, can we have the reading of the noncontroversial calendar at this time.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The Secretary will read.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 273, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2600E, an act making appropriations for the support of government: STATE OPERATIONS BUDGET.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Lay it aside.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The bill is laid aside.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 275, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2603E, an act making appropriations for the support of government: AID TO LOCALITIES BUDGET.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Lay it aside.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The bill is laid aside.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 277, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2607D, an act in relation to school district eligibility.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Lay it aside.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The bill is laid aside.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 278, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2609D, an act to amend the Tax Law.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Lay it aside.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The bill is laid aside.
         Senator Libous, that completes the noncontroversial reading of the calendar.
        
SENATOR LIBOUS: Thank you, Mr. President.
         At this time I want to do the controversial reading of the calendar, but I want to go in a different order than what the calendar suggests. So I would like to take up the controversial reading of Calendar Number 277, please, at this time.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The Secretary will ring the bells and place Calendar Number 277 before the Senate on its controversial reading.
         The Secretary will read.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 277, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2607D, an act in relation to school district eligibility.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, I believe there's an amendment at the desk. I ask that a reading of the amendment be waived and that Senator Espaillat may be heard on the amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Gianaris.
         There is an amendment at the desk. I've reviewed the amendment and am ruling it out of order, as it attempts to direct appropriations. As such, it is an impermissible substitution under Article 7 of the State Constitution.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: You said it directs appropriations. I don't believe that amendment directs appropriations. Is that your ruling?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Yeah, that's the ruling.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: I appeal from the decision of the chair, and I ask that Senator Espaillat be heard on that appeal in order to explain the amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Espaillat to be heard on the appeal.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Thank you, Mr. President.
         My amendment to this budget bill is germane for the following reasons. The amendment deals with the same subject matter as the underlying bill in the following respects. First, both pieces of legislation seek to amend the same body of law; namely, the Labor Law, Section 652. Secondly, both bills would set higher wages for workers and address the statutory mechanism by which future increase to the minimum wage could occur.
         The amendment neither unreasonably expands the object or subject of the underlying bill, nor does it change the purpose, scope or object of the original bill.
         The purpose and scope of the bill, if amended as I propose, will remain to increase the minimum wage for New York State employees and address future minimum wage increases. The bill will continue to address both standard and tipped employees in a separate but related statutory scheme.
         The amendment that I offer would increase the minimum wage to $9 on July 1, 2013, which is sooner than in the bill currently under consideration that increases the minimum wage to $9 on the last day, December 31st, of 2015.
         The amendment would also, starting in 2015, index the minimum wage to the rate of inflation to ensure that lower-income workers are no longer subject to the political whims of the Legislature and to help ensure that workers are able to support themselves and, in many instances, their families.
         The amendment I offer would also address a glaring problem with the bill under consideration. It would increase the minimum wage for tipped workers to $6.40 beginning on July 1, 2013, up from the current $5 per hour. And that rate would also be indexed to inflation starting in 2015.
         Finally, the amendment I offer would include a so-called nonpreemption clause which would enable a locality to raise the minimum wage within its borders at rates exceeding the state rate.
         These proposed changes are needed to ensure that New York's minimum-wage workers are treated fairly and with respect.
         There are several reasons why we should raise the minimum wage more quickly. Nearly 1.5 million New Yorkers are affected by the minimum wage. According to the National Employment Law Project and the Fiscal Policy Institute, this proposal will create 10,200 full-time jobs from new economic activity, far more than the proposal on the floor today. This proposal would also provide minimum-wage workers with an additional $6,760 in wages over the next five years, or an additional $1,352 per year on average.
         For anyone who thinks this proposal is too bold, increasing the minimum wage to $9 an hour in 2013 is a 24 percent increase of the minimum wage, lower than the minimum wage increase of 39 percent in 2004 under then-Senate Temporary President Joe Bruno. A 39 percent increase today would provide a minimum wage of $10.10 per hour by 2016.
         This proposal also treats tipped workers fairly. Not only does this legislation fail to increase minimum wage for tipped workers, but it affirmatively prevents their minimum wage from increasing automatically, which by law would otherwise increase proportionately when the Legislature or federal government increases the underlying minimum wage.
         Instead, this proposal calls for a wage board which could be called at any time on the preexisting law and leaves it to the wage board to decide whether tipped workers are included in any minimum-wage increase.
         Fifteen percent, Mr. President, of all minimum-wage workers are tipped workers, which means that the minimum wage is particularly relevant to this category of employees. Seventy-two percent of tipped workers are women, and 88 percent are over the age of 20. Failing to increase the wage for tipped workers will disproportionately hurt adult women.
         Since 2000, the number of tipped workers has increased by 15.5 percent, and outpaced nontipped workers in job creation by 100 percent in 2012.
         Failing to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers takes money out of their pockets. The tipped worker minimum wage guarantees employees a base pay, and this failure will force employees to make the difference with the tips.
         It is important to allow local governments also to set minimum wages as they choose. This proposal allows for local municipalities to adopt a minimum wage without conflicting with state law. According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, the living wage in Broome County is $8.85, while the living wage in Kings County is $12.75. Because of these discrepancies in the cost of living throughout the state, a nonpreemption clause will give municipalities greater flexibility to adjust the minimum wage to local circumstances.
         While state law does not explicitly print a municipality from adopting a higher minimum wage, the Court of Appeals has ruled against such efforts. A nonpreemption clause would add clarity to the state's public policy and fix this problem.
         For the foregoing reasons, the amendment I'm offering today is germane to the budget bill currently under consideration.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Espaillat.
         All those in favor of overruling the ruling of the chair please raise your hand.
         (Show of hands.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Ayes, 26.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The ruling of the chair stands.
         Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, I believe there's another amendment at the desk. I ask that the reading of that amendment be waived and that Senator Tkaczyk may be heard on that amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Tkaczyk does have an amendment at the desk. I have reviewed it and ruled it out of order as it attempts to direct appropriations. As such, it is an impermissible substitution under Article 7 of the New York State Constitution.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, I appeal the decision of the chair and I ask that Senator Tkaczyk be heard on that appeal.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Tkaczyk on the appeal.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you, Mr. President.
         The amendment that I offer would provide an additional $253 million in foundation school aid, an additional $253 million in gap elimination aid, and would include a phaseout of the gap elimination adjustment.
         Although this budget increased funding for education, it does not sufficiently address the drastic financial conditions many of our schools are facing, particularly those in low-wealth rural areas and small upstate cities. The dire financial condition facing school districts developed over many years, the result of increased costs and mandates that outpace state aid.
         The problems were greatly exacerbated three years ago with the implementation of the gap elimination adjustment, or GEA, which has cost our schools $6.7 billion over the last three years. When the GEA was first proposed, it was intended to be a one-time cut in school aid to help close New York State's then $10 billion budget deficit. Unfortunately, the state has continued the GEA for the past three years.
         The $6.7 billion in education aid cuts caused by the GEA over that time have been grossly inequitable, disproportionately hurting upstate school districts with low wealth ratios which received much larger cuts per pupil when compared to high-wealth districts. To address these inequities, the amendment I offered would make both long and short-term funding changes, starting with an increase in both Foundation Aid and GEA restoration.
         With regard to Foundation Aid, my amendment would increase funding by $253 million, with high-needs rural school districts receiving $13.6 million in additional Foundation Aid, average-needs school districts receiving $40.3 million, and high-needs urban and suburban districts receiving an increase in Foundation Aid of $29.6 million.
         Regionally, my amendment would translate to a further increase of $10 million to the Central New York region, $19.7 million to Western New York, and $21 million to the Hudson Valley region.
         My amendment would also increase GEA restoration funding by $253 million, with high-needs rural districts receiving an additional $50 million, average-needs schools receiving a restoration of $189 million, and high-needs urban and suburban districts receiving an additional $71 million for GEA restoration. Regionally, that would result in an additional $53 million to the Capital Region, $20 million to the Mohawk Valley, and $76 million to the Hudson Valley.
         Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the amendment I offer follows the laudable example set by my Republican colleagues in their Senate budget resolution by calling for a phaseout of the gap elimination adjustment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Tkaczyk.
         All those in favor of overruling the ruling of the chair please say aye.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Show of hands, please, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Please raise your hand.
         (Show of hands.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Ayes, 26.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The ruling of the chair stands.
         On the bill, Senator Espaillat.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Thank you, Mr. President.
         Again, this bill falls very short of the rest of the states across the country with regard to the minimum wage. Currently, there are 19 states that have a minimum wage above $7.25 -- I might add that New York State adopted a minimum wage of $7.15, and we were forced to go further up by the federal minimum wage -- states like California, at $8, Nevada at $8.25, Oregon at $8.95, Washington at $9.19.
         These states all have obviously a much lower cost of living than New York State, and yet they all currently have a higher minimum wage.
         And so to prolong the process and to allow New York State to consider reaching the minimum wage of $9 in 2016 -- because the expected day is the last day of 2015, December 31st of 2015. To think that working-class folks will get by at this level of pay is a travesty.
         In fact, at the federal level, currently a bill sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin and our very own Senators Gillibrand and Schumer proposes to increase the minimum wage to $8.20 in three months after the bill, $9.15 one year after the bill, and $10.10 two years after the bill is enacted. Three years after that bill is enacted, the minimum wage shall increase each year at the rate of inflation.
         In essence, they have an index, which we don't propose in our current bill. There is no indexing in our current bill being discussed here tonight, and it will force us to go back to this very thorny and difficult issue.
         So tipped workers are also included in this federal legislation, and eventually they will go up to have a minimum wage of $7.07.
         So if we pass the minimum wage at this level and we wait for three years to get to $9, in fact the federal government will again force us to provide a higher minimum wage than New York State is proposing. That's just clearly unacceptable for the Empire State, if you may. We should be leading the fight on making sure that there's income fairness for many people.
         And many of the folks that are benefiting from the minimum age are tipped workers and adult women. Fifty percent of the people that will be impacted that are currently benefiting from the minimum wage are tipped workers.
         So this particular bill that we're taking up tonight cuts out 50 percent of the workforce. It would only apply immediately to the other 50 percent. And a wage board then will have to consider the livelihood of tipped workers and many of them who are adult women who would not benefit directly from this bill.
         I think that this is a bad bill. It is filled with smoke and mirrors. It doesn't accomplish what we set out to accomplish when we started this legislative session to bring fair wages to many New Yorkers who will simply make just a little bit over a thousand dollars more a year. They're not going to run away and go on a Caribbean cruise with that kind of money. They will go right to our local businesses and spend their money there, and it will motivate the economy.
         So this is a bad piece of legislation. It doesn't accomplish what we set out to accomplish. And, Mr. President, I will be voting in the negative.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Espaillat.
         Senator Peralta on the bill.
        
SENATOR PERALTA: Thank you, Mr. President.
         Now, I understand that there are some good things in every budget bill. And looking at some of the education provisions like funding for extended learning and a pathway to resolve New York City's teacher evaluation standoff, this bill is no exception.
         Mr. President, but looking at this bill as a whole, I can't help but be appalled by both the process and the product. Just yesterday, or maybe it was just two days ago, members stood in this chamber praising a bill that brought sunshine and transparency to session and committee meetings. That's why I figure many of my colleagues will be very supportive of Senator Gipson's vampire bill.
         But now we stand here in the dead of night, hours away from sunshine in either direction, considering a budget bill that seems designed to shrink our middle class, grow the ranks of the impoverished, and widen the gap between the richest and the poorest. Mr. President, that is the only way to explain a minimum-wage bill bogged down by loopholes, bad incentives, and giveaways to giant multinational corporations. It is the only way to explain the decision to treat immigrants -- who just want to go to college, work hard and pay taxes -- like pariahs.
         Mr. President, we had the chance to pass a strong minimum wage bill indexed to inflation. Not only did we have the chance to do it, but I believe that we had the votes to do it. But instead we got this watered-down version.
         And the crown of arguments to that state that, Well, this bill doesn't include a training wage, a provision making it profitable for organizations like Walmart to fire a 25-year-old single mom and replace her with a teenager, only to fire that same teenager when she turns 20. But instead of a training wage, we got a corporate handout that incentivizes the exact same thing but instead uses taxpayer dollars to do it.
         Mr. President, we're talking about an uncapped, unrestricted tax credit that is expected to cost between $20 million to $40 million a year. Now, why throw money at a policy that puts companies that pay more than the bare minimum, that don't have constant turnover, that don't fire workers as soon as they hit 20 at a disadvantage. I guess what we got out of this bill is a sign that reads "Sorry, but the middle class is closed."
         We also have a bill that abandons tipped workers, a group that is three-quarters women, many of whom are forced to live below the poverty line and work in an industry where wage theft is rampant. Mr. President, instead of raising their wage proportionately, as has always been done, it leaves them with a nonbinding assurance that they may see their wage rise at some future date.
         What's worse, I'm told that this version is a vast improvement on the original Senate majority proposal. So in that spirit, I guess I have to give my sincere thanks to Governor Cuomo, to Speaker Silver, to Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins and all the dedicated advocates who fought to keep this bill from doing more harm than good.
         But hey, at least we can say that we raised the minimum wage, right? At least we can say that. At least we can say that we took some small step to help struggling families lift themselves out of poverty, however imperfect.
         But what we can really say to another group of people who not only did nothing wrong but did everything right? What can we say to those Dreamers who have worked so hard only to hit that glass ceiling, only to be told that all their hopes and all their aspirations, all their hard work mean nothing in the face of a fraction of a decimal point in our budget?
         Mr. President, what can we say to those individuals when other states like Texas, New Mexico and California offer state financial aid to children of immigrants, but New York does not? Should we tell them we're sorry but we spent that money and more on a fire-working-moms tax break? Should we tell them we care about helping other teenagers get a job at McDonald's but not about helping them become an electrical engineer? Mr. President, what should we tell them?
         We could have done a minimum wage right, but instead we settled for a quarter-loaf riddled with worms. We could have changed the lives of thousands by passing the DREAM Act, but instead we told them that their dreams have no meaning and we just don't care enough. We could have grown our middle class, but instead we're paying Walmart to fire people.
         Mr. President, I will be voting no and I urge all my colleagues to do the same.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Peralta.
         Senator Stavisky on the legislation.
        
SENATOR STAVISKY: On the bill, Mr. President.
         There are a lot of good things, I think, in this bill -- increases in base aid for community colleges, the opportunity programs, childcare, the higher ed -- I know much of that is the Aid to Localities, but it's still part of the same concept. And I think there are a lot of good things in this bill.
         Capital money for the colleges and universities for SUNY and CUNY, that to me is important. But as Senator Peralta and Senator Espaillat and everybody else has said, the DREAM Act is extremely important, particularly in my district, where I represent a district which has an Asian population of 53 percent. And you're saying to these young people: No, we're not going to make the benefits of higher education available to you. We're saying to them that Jimmy Fallon's tax credit is more important than your getting a job, your using the ability to use TAP and other opportunity programs at SUNY and CUNY.
         These are young people who are going to pay back society with increased earning capacity. They're going to stimulate the economy when they graduate. They're going to have a better job that will pay them more money, and they in turn will be paying more in taxes. And what are they going to be doing with the extra money? They're not going to shelter their income in the Cayman Islands, they're going to purchase goods and services in the community. To say to these young people "We're not open for immigrants" to me is a travesty.
         However, weighing the good with the bad, I intend to vote for this bill and hope that we will take care of the DREAM Act, which is really going to come in at something like $17 million to $25 million in terms of expenditure. Hopefully we will take care of that in the days and weeks to come.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Stavisky.
         Senator Sanders on the bill.
        
SENATOR SANDERS: Thank you, Mr. President, on the bill.
         Well, it's close to 1 o'clock in the morning and it appears that the vampires that my colleague was speaking about not only have been out, but they have sucked the blood out of the $9 minimum wage.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR SANDERS: I wish that we could find some way of dealing with it. I don't know if garlic is appropriate in this hall. But if it was, I think that we could use it.
         When I think of this stutter step that we're taking on the minimum wage, when I think of how we're going to start and stop and start again and then stop and finally get to $9, I am almost amused thinking of my neighbors who will go to the stores and they will say, Well, I need to buy some things but I can pay you some now, some a year from now, some two years from now. And I sadly know the answer that they will be given if they attempt this. Security will be called for, and they will be escorted out.
         People cannot wait for us to get to that place of a minimum wage, and we should not have done this. We should have done it right the first time. Not the second or the third or whatever time it is. We should have indexed this so that we would not have to return to this issue again. Stores won't wait, and neither will our neighbors.
         One of the best ways that everyone in here knows to stimulate the economy is to give money to people who will spend it. There's no other group that needs to spend their money more than this group that needs to have their wages increased.
         But that's not the only problem that I see in this budget. I'm looking at education, and I'm aware that approximately 37 percent of all of the public school children in the State of New York are in New York City, and yet New York City is going to experience a $240 million loss in this budget for things that the children have nothing to do with. That is outrageous, and we should do something about it.
         It's good that I'm hearing that an understanding is going to be reached that this will be a one-time thing, that we won't go through this every year. But it's still folly -- indeed, madness -- that even one year's worth of money for the children is being diverted to other places. Children cannot wait. Their education cannot wait, and yet we have.
         And yet we don't stop there, we have to find more innocents to punish. How about the DREAM Act, where we find some folks who have had absolutely nothing to do with a situation they find themselves in, but we say that they are going to be responsible and we're not going to act on the DREAM Act.
         So as a matter of simple justice, I can't vote on this budget. And I'm encouraging everybody that (A) we shouldn't vote on it, but (B) my friends, in the future can we just take the time, maybe if we truly work together we can do it right.
         Thank you very much, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
         Senator Kennedy on the bill.
        
SENATOR KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I've been listening intently to my colleagues in my Democratic Conference, and I agree with them wholeheartedly. It's been nine years since the minimum wage was increased last, and nine years before that. I've been listening intently because we voted tonight on a hostile amendment to increase the minimum wage to $9 an hour, plus indexing. That hostile amendment failed.
         I rise today because Western New York's working families can't afford to wait any longer for our state to raise the minimum wage. Buffalo suffers from an unfortunately high poverty rate, and too many families are living in poverty and living with stagnant wages. It's left 46 percent of Buffalo children living in poverty. Many people work full-time, and many people are working multiple jobs, yet their families still grapple with poverty because they're only paid the minimum wage.
         At the current wage floor, an individual who works 40 hours a week only makes $290 a week before taxes. That's about $15,000 a year. You can't make ends meet with that kind of a wage. In a family of three, living on that wage today is living below the federal poverty line. That's unacceptable anywhere. It's especially unacceptable here in New York State, the Empire State.
         And that's why we must pass an increase in the minimum wage that reflects our state's respect for hard work. This bill before us raises the minimum wage. It doesn't immediately raise the wage to the fairer $9-an-hour level. And we still need to link the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index so working families' wages can keep pace with the rising cost of living.
         But it does raise the minimum wage, and that is something that cannot be ignored. This wage increase will positively impact thousands of Western New Yorkers and their families, thousands of working families across New York State. It will mean a slightly larger paycheck and a chance to live a little more comfortably. It will boost economic activity. As we all know, minimum-wage earners recirculate their income right back into the economy, purchasing necessities at local small businesses.
         Working families will be able to put more and healthier foods on the table, students will have a chance to save a little more to pay for their college educations, seniors working minimum-wage jobs will have a little more to cover the high cost of medications and housing.
         This is not a perfect bill, but it is a positive step forward. And while I and 31 of my colleagues in this conference would like to see a minimum wage increased to $9 an hour with consumer price indexing, a majority in this conference, a message from the Assembly to do the same, this is a positive step forward, despite our efforts to do more.
         It's a long overdue increase in the minimum wage that will allow hardworking New Yorkers to hold their heads up high after 40, 50, 60 hours of work in a week and return home to their loved ones with a larger paycheck they need to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table and, yes, dignity. Our state must reward hard work, and this raise in the minimum wage is progress. But we also understand that there's much more work to be done.
         I'll be voting aye on this bill, Mr. President. Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Kennedy.
         Senator Parker on the bill.
        
SENATOR PARKER: Thank you, Mr. President.
         There's so much in this bill, which means there's so much wrong with this bill, unfortunately. This was an opportunity for us to actually do some good things in the state. I want to cover kind of three areas -- four areas, actually. Some of it was covered by some of my colleagues, so I'll try to keep it brief.
         In 2004, I guess, was the first time I voted no on the entire budget. And it was based on the issue of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. And I think I might have been the only one I think in the chamber at that time who voted against the entire budget. But I felt like it was the least I could do.
         I went to public schools my whole life, P.S. 193, I went to Hudde Junior High School, I went to Midwood High School. And, you know, I don't come from rich parents. My father worked for the Transit Authority, my mother was a clerk at Brooklyn College for a number of years, and worked hard like many -- the same story that I'm sure many people here have.
         But it seems that as we negotiate these budgets, we forget where we've come from. We forget those humble beginnings. We forget that our parents were Dreamers once, our grandparents were Dreamers. We forget that we come from schools that were underfunded. We forget that we come from working-class households that were overtaxed. And so even though we come out and we want to talk about, you know, we're not taxing anybody, we have this 18-a assessment that's nestled in the budget that continues for another three years instead of ending this year.
         We voted last year on teacher evaluations, and all of us agreed that it was an important thing to do and we all agreed that we should work on getting there, and so we did that. And the adults couldn't figure out how to make it work. And because the adults couldn't figure out how to make it work, we should not be punishing children. It's just simply wrong. To not restore the $250 million cut from New York City public schools because adults can't get it right is not the right way to go.
         We also need to make sure that we live up to the promise of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. And it doesn't just impact New York City, it impacts the entire state. That was one of the decisions that we decided to make, to make sure that we gave that money out, that it would help high-need districts from Buffalo to Bath, from Brooklyn to Brookhaven.
         And we should continue to keep our promise to educate every child even in high-needs school districts. We don't do that in this budget.
         Some of you know that before I actually came and got elected to the Legislature, I worked for H. Carl McCall, who was the first African-American elected statewide in New York. He was the State Comptroller at the time and is now the chair of SUNY. And Carl was fond of saying that education wasn't simply a door for opportunity, it was actually the sledgehammer to break down the door of opportunity.
         With education, you can do anything. Education is literally the basis of the future success of all of our children. Why jeopardize that now because adults can't get it together?
         We could do better in this budget, and we must do better. Many of my colleagues have spoken more eloquently than I have -- than I could, frankly, on the DREAM Act. I represent a district that is very largely immigrant, and I would be remiss if I left this chamber without speaking to how important it would be to pass this and just to show immigrants that in this state that is dependent on immigration -- I mean, we would have lost -- do you know how many Congressional seats we would have lost if it wasn't for the increase of immigrants to the shores of New York?
         This state is primarily an agricultural state. I know that we're the second-largest producers of apples in the entire country, after Washington State. We're like number three in terms of dairy products in this state. We're the second-largest maple producer after Vermont. We're number four in terms of hog products. You know, in the top three or four in terms of sweet corn and onions.
         And a lot of those products are actually harvested by immigrants. But we're unwilling to give the children of immigrants the opportunity to get an education here in this state. We could do better. Failure to pass the DREAM Act tonight is failing New York's most important core value, which is opportunity for everyone. And I think we should stand up for opportunity for everyone and pass the DREAM Act.
         I mentioned earlier the 18-a assessment. It was supposed to phase out this year, right? But we have it now in this budget going over three years. Let's be very clear, the 18-a assessment is a regressive tax. When you vote for this bill, you are voting to raise taxes of your constituents.
         It should be phased down and it should be lowered to its pre-2009 amount and restored to its historic use. The worst part of this tax is not even just that you're collecting it, you're not even using it for what it was actually initially instigated for. We started this tax to actually fund the Public Service Commission so that we can hear rate cases to make sure that ratepayers were in fact not getting cheated by utilities.
         But we've perverted that. We've raised the tax, made them pay it, and we're taking the money and we're putting it into the General Fund. Not the right way to do taxes. And then we're going to walk around and say we've got to raise taxes. It's not the right thing to do.
         Lastly, and certainly not least, is the increase in the minimum wage. Frankly, $9 is a little conservative for my taste. Senator Espaillat, I've got an $11.15 bill, very proud of it. I think we really ought to have two bills that happen. We really ought to be looking at a statewide bill. Right? Maybe $11.15 is a little high. But it is based on numbers. Frank Mauro and the Fiscal Policy Institute have done a study and indicated that had we continued to raise the cost of living on -- or what we refer to as indexing. Had we given a cost-of-living index on the minimum wage since 1970, right now we'd be at
         So maybe that's too rich for your blood. We certainly ought to be doing $9 for the rest of the state, and we ought to be doing something close to the $10 or $10.50 for New York City at a minimum. If you tell me that $9 is appropriate for Utah and Mississippi and North Dakota and Montana, you can't tell me that $8.75 in December is appropriate for the Empire State. Eight dollars, that's right. We're not even talking about $8.75, right, we're talking about $8 in December, $8.75 the following December.
         We are failing, as we sit here right now, failing working families in the State of New York. The price of living is going up and the chance of living is going down. And so I urge my colleagues to rethink this bill. Let's pull it from the floor, let's make a couple of adjustments to it, let's bring it back. I would love to vote for an increase. But this is not the right one. This is a perversion of the trust that our working families have sent us here for, which is to protect them and to help them. And to do a phase-in over three years that will create an obsolete standard of living, you know, is certainly not the way.
         Mr. President, I vote no.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Thank you, Senator Parker.
         Senator Tkaczyk on the bill.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you, Mr. President. Would the sponsor yield to a question?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator DeFrancisco, do you yield to a question?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: The sponsor yields.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you, Mr. President.
         On the education portion of the budget, one of the issues our school districts have faced is the fact that some of them are actually facing educational insolvency. I'd like to ask the sponsor how he would define educational insolvency.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Educational insolvency is when kids leave high school and can't read and write. Education insolvency is when children do not perform and schools do not perform. That's education insolvency. The financial issue is part of it, but there's more to it than that.
         But what I'd like to do is refer these questions to the expert in education, our own John Flanagan. And he can give you a more specific answer, if you don't mind. Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Tkaczyk, do you wish Senator Flanagan yield for a a question?
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Would Senator Flanagan yield to a question?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan, do you yield?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan yields.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: So my question is, how would you define educational insolvency?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: I'm going to agree with Senator DeFrancisco.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Okay. So would Senator Flanagan yield to another question.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan continues to yield.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Just so that I understand, your definition of educational insolvency means when someone graduates high school they can't read or write?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: No, I think it's multifaceted and goes beyond, as Senator DeFrancisco said.
         If you go back -- I'm now in my third year chairing the Education Committee. One of the first meetings I had was with Deputy Commissioner King, who is now Commissioner King. And we talked about insolvency, in a fiscal sense, in an educational sense, and in a legal sense.
         And everybody in the chamber knows that school districts under the law cannot go legally insolvent.
         You can have a further discussion about financial insolvency, and there will be a whole wide variety of opinions as to how one would define that: Lack of accessibility, lack of opportunity, having curtailed programs, having disparate impacts across districts in various parts of the state.
         And then you can have a whole debate about educational insolvency. I know one of the areas where Senator LaValle and Senator DeFrancisco have been very outspoken is in the area of remediation. There's money in this budget for when students get into community colleges in particular to help fix some of the problems that were not righted through the elementary and secondary process.
         In my opinion, the single most important way to avoid any of these problems is to make sure that public education in the State of New York is properly funded.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Would the sponsor yield to a further question.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan, do you yield?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: As a former school board member, one of the things we had to tackle on our school board was how do we define a successful student. And one of the barometers we used was the children at our school district can get to college. If they apply to colleges, they get accepted.
         One of the barometers I would suggest -- and I wanted to know if you agree with this -- is that one of the things that we could use to define educational insolvency is if our children are not able to apply to college or be accepted at a college of their choosing because they don't have the educational programming at their high school to be competitive. Would you agree with that?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: I would agree in part. But I don't think it's simply enough to talk about the actions of the Legislature and what we may do in the context of the budget. We should not forget that the Commissioner and the Board of Regents set educational policy here in the State of New York.
         And a lot of what you're talking about, accessibility and opportunity, starts with the message that they deliver. We're really the financing arm, when you get right down to it. They're more of the policy arm.
         So in terms of things that are being advocated, Senator Young has been very outspoken about regional high schools. I've talked about broadband accessibility, making computers more accessible all across the state, particularly in rural communities, which you should certainly know about. Then you have concepts like distance learning, providing opportunities that may not be there originally or ones that are starting to go away.
         So it's with an eye on what's going on right now, but we have advanced, as the Senate Majority, a number of proposals frankly within this budget as well that would have addressed some of the points that you're raising. And the Assembly and the Executive, and the Assembly in particular, just rejected it. Regional high schools is probably the most glaring example.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you.
         Would the Senator continue to yield.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan yields.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: I don't disagree that there are some good things in this budget. I'm happy to see the increases in education foundation aid and the GEA. But I keep coming back to the reason why schools are facing educational insolvency is the lack of money to have adequate programming.
         My question now is if there is still, in the budget, $15 million for bullet aid, how is that bullet aid distributed?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: That bullet aid is distributed pursuant to an agreement with the Majority Leader, I believe. The details of that are not in the context of this bill or -- I'm not sure which one it's in. But yes, there is a pot of money.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: I believe it's in this bill.
         Would the Senator continue to yield to a question?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Flanagan yields.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Through you, Mr. President, do you think the bullet aid should be for the most part sent to those school districts that are facing educational insolvency?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Well, I think the bullet aid should be distributed to school districts that find themselves in difficult financial situations, if you want to differentiate between financial insolvency and educational insolvency.
         But no matter what time you come up with a budget or what year you come up with a budget, even when it's well-intentioned -- and I think this is a very strong educational product -- no matter how you do it, there's always a few people that somehow seem to fall through the cracks.
         And what we've tried to do in large part is help plug holes. And I can pick out districts right in my own county of Suffolk, some that came out on the shorter end of the stick this year. And if people were asking me about bullet aid, that would be an area that I would be looking at. And frankly, I would be no different than any one of my colleagues, because as everyone got the school runs today, people look and they go, Okay, good, bad, not so good, this is where we have a problem. And that is after coming up with 10 different tiers on ways to improve on what the Governor advanced to us.
         So it's not -- again, there's a whole litany of factors that need to be considered.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you, Mr. President and Senator Flanagan.
         On the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT VALESKY: Senator Tkaczyk on the bill.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: I'm very happy with some of the additional funding in this bill. With the inclusion of my hostile amendment, it would have been better, because we would have been able to eliminate the gap elimination adjustment and revamp the school aid formula in its entirety. But as it's drafted, we do add $176 million for the gap elimination aid and $196 million to the school aid formula.
         But as you describe, there is changes. We don't really know how that is impacting all of the school districts since we just got the runs a couple of hours ago. It really needs to be looked at and talked to the schools to see how they're being impacted by that. And I would certainly urge the Republican Majority, when they do disburse the bullet aid, that they focus that aid on schools that have needs, either they're facing educational insolvency or have financial issues.
         But there are some other -- some of the other good things in the bill, that it does restore high tax aid to 2008-2009 levels. And there is relief in the form of a mandate relief in that internal audits are no longer expected for schools that are below 1500 in size.
         Collectively, these will help. But I am still worried. I am worried that the damage our schools have seen over the last three years is not going to be made up in this one budget bill.
         I'll give you an example of the Fonda-Fultonville School District. It serves almost half of Montgomery County. There are 1400 kids. It's a K-through-12 school. They've been cutting staff and programs over the past three years. At the end of last year they had to pay out over a million dollars in catastrophic healthcare costs, which forced them to make midyear budget cuts of over $500,000. They had a pool; it's been closed years ago. They only have a few AP classes.
         There wasn't much to cut. What they cut, they eliminated their business program and they laid off their school psychologist. I have a problem with that. Their school sports teams rely on their bus drivers and coaches who volunteer their time. The unions have also agreed to concessions of almost $500,000.
         This budget may help them stop cutting and keep the pink slips in the superintendent's office this year. But if we want to make long-term structural changes, we need to do things like committing to eliminating the gap elimination adjustment so that we can stabilize funding to rural and small city schools.
         I will be voting aye on this bill, but I sincerely hope that we are not done continuing to work together to improve financial conditions and educational opportunities for all of our children.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Tkaczyk.
         Senator Latimer.
        
SENATOR LATIMER: Thank you, Mr. President. On the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Latimer on the bill.
        
SENATOR LATIMER: This bill is a good example -- we touched on it before; I'm not the only person that's shared this thought -- that the way we do our budgets in New York State really requires a significant overhaul. Whether that overhaul is going to happen or not is very problematic, because I certainly understand the system to know that it benefits certain things happening.
         But a bill like this takes so many disparate issues that are not all necessarily budgetary, and putting them in one lump sum like this makes it very, very difficult for individuals as well as legislators to deal with each of these policy issues the way they should be dealt with, which is individually, on the merits of each of those issues.
         This is very much like one of those gift baskets that you either receive or give at Christmastime, and inside is a bottle of wine, there's a can of nuts, there's some cookies, there's some fruit. And when you open up the gift basket, you like the wine, you don't like the peanut brittle, you like the shortbread cookies but you don't like the kumquats. But you have to either take the whole basket or send it back to your aunt and say "Sorry, I didn't really like this basket."
         In this basket of this bill are things, and a number of us have said it before, that are good public policy statements. I mentioned a couple of days ago I was concerned about the Governor's Moreland Commission recommendations. They're in this bill, and it's a very good step in that direction.
         In this bill, as others have mentioned other different areas, in this bill is pension smoothing, which is very controversial. But the City of Yonkers was wants the opportunity to use pension smoothing, so the City of Yonkers needs a bill like this to pass for them to have that option. Those schools that were affected by the loss of high tax aid will be benefited by this.
         But my colleagues and I have spoken passionately about the minimum wage, and that the minimum-wage issue is also in this bill and is distasteful to those of us -- which include the Governor, whose original proposal was $8.75, and the Assembly, all of which wanted a very different product than what we had at the end. Perhaps CSI Albany on one of the future episodes will cover what happened here.
         And as many of us do when we don't really know what's going on, we read Liz Benjamin and we read the different blogs, and perhaps the blogs will tell us what happened, how we started out in one place and ended up in another place.
         I do want to talk on one topic that was not addressed in this bill. And I recognize my friend Senator Flanagan has been outspoken on this topic. And if it's not going to be in the bill, it still bears being heard in a public domain. And that's the plight of the 853 schools. These schools serve over 15,000 of New York's most needy and vulnerable students. And those programs and the financing of that has been frozen for four years by the Department of Budget.
         Now, that problem creates a difficulty for these schools which this budget, this bill and this budget does not address. We're going to have to deal with them down the line. These schools are unable to access private credit. They're dealing with very low if any reserves. And they don't have the geographic constituency that we have with our geographic school districts where there's a group of parents and a group of individuals that care deeply about it.
         So I would say this is now unfinished business for those of us who care. We understand it's not a broad-based constituency. But it is something that, while omitted in this budget, has to be addressed going forward.
         I intend to vote for this bill, knowing that I find the minimum-wage provisions unacceptable, knowing that the APPR arrangements as relates not only to the New York City district but to other districts that didn't get the headlines -- like Harrison, that I represent, and two other districts around the state -- were not dealt with, I think, appropriately or fairly.
         But I think the real story -- and not that I expect it to be addressed today or tomorrow or a year from now or even a decade from now -- the way we do these budgets, putting desperate issues together, is a disservice to democracy.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Thank you, Mr. President. Would the sponsor yield to a question?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Would you like Senator Flanagan to yield --
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Yes, please.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: -- on education?
         Senator Flanagan.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Oh, I -- I'm sorry. I don't know which Senator would be best, but -- I asked for the sponsor, but --
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: They both stand ready.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: They both stand ready, okay. I guess the question then, sir, to either, is if you've evaluated the fiscal impact on New York City of the requirement in this bill to expand bus service to private school students who attend classes after 4:00 p.m.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Flanagan.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes. There have been extensive discussions on this subject. And it's not the only area of nonpublic schools that are involved in the budget. There's increases for mandated-services aid and things like that.
         Essentially the agreement that has been worked out would provide additional opportunities, provide additional flexibility. It has incentives for potential cost savings and for now, in this year and this budget, would ultimately provide a cap so that if there were an expansive growth in the program, that we would be able to get that in more detail. And I believe the number is $5.6 million.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Would the Senator continue to yield.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: So in future years, sir, are there estimations of what the expanded bus service will cost the City of New York beyond the $5 million?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: No. Because part of this started last year. There was an understanding of what it may be. And now we've moved ahead incrementally.
         I think it's an enhancement on what was started last year. I think it addresses issues of safety involving children all across the City of New York. And I can't theorize as to what that number will be until we have further implementation of what's now going to be in this budget.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Would the Senator continue to yield.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Are you aware, sir, that representatives from the city's Department of Education have estimated costs upwards of $100 million or more in future years?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: I have actually heard numbers as high as $300 million, neither of which I believe. I think it is mere conjecture on their part.
         There have been extensive discussions amongst all the various parties and the staff. My colleagues, I've spoken to Senator Golden, Senator Lanza, Senator Felder. I don't -- let's put it this way. I don't believe those numbers are accurate, even at the extreme, or at the $100 million.
         But the value of what we've done is provide additional funding with a cap. So if for some reason things go askew and all of a sudden there's some exponential growth, that can be adjusted. But I have not seen anything that would detail for me or for you or for anyone, frankly, in this Legislature where the $100 million is.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: On the bill, sir.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman on the bill.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Mr. President, I think it is the height, the height of fiscal irresponsibility that this unfunded mandate has not been thoroughly examined -- clearly, as my colleague has stated, especially in these very difficult economic and fiscal times for New York City's 1.1 million school students. We've heard from my colleagues New York City is already facing $240 million in cuts and maybe upwards of $1 billion in five years --
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Flanagan, why do you rise?
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: If I may finish, I'm happy to take a question.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman, I'm recognizing the member who has risen.
         Senator Flanagan, why do you rise?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: You'll yield to a question when you're finished?
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Yes, sir.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman, you may continue.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: So in addition to the $240 million and $1 billion in five years from the teacher evaluation fiasco, we also have lost in New York City our AIM funding, that's $300 million annually, and $260 million in Race to the Top funds.
         The fact that an arrangement which has not been thoroughly examined which we do not know the upper limits, in a chamber that prides itself in fiscal austerity and close examination of numbers, I think, Mr. President, is appalling.
         And for that reason I will oppose this bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Flanagan.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Thank you.
         I actually have a two-part question, based on what you just said. Are you aware that the money that we're providing is aidable through the transportation formula so it is not an unfunded mandate? It's not completely funded, but it's certainly not unfunded. That's the whole point of the money coming from the State of New York, to mitigate what the cost may be for the City of New York. I just want to make sure that you're aware of that.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, if I could, just a point of order.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, I'm going to do two things. Senator Gianaris, please.
         Senator Hoylman, you do yield, correct? Senator Hoylman. Senator Hoylman. Senator Hoylman, you do yield, correct?
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: And then I'm going to remind the members to please direct their questions and answers through the chair.
         Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: That was my point as well. Thank you, Mr. President.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Mr. President, I had directed my question through the chair previously and waited till the Senator finished before posing it.
         So, Senator Hoylman, do you agree that this is transportation-aidable?
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Mr. President, I agree that there is some aid for New York City in this scheme. I do, though -- would like to ask my colleague a question if he will yield.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman, let's continue right now. You had yielded to Senator Flanagan. So if you'll answer the questions. And, Senator Flanagan, will you yield to Senator Hoylman then?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes. I had said I had a two-part question.
         The second part -- and I realize this has a created a tremendous amount of consternation. I will tell you exactly what is my understanding on the APPR as it relates to the City of New York. And trust me, there have been tons of discussions, public and private.
         I don't believe there's any question that the money for 2012-2013, $240 million, is gone. In this budget, today, going forward, that money is in the base for the City of New York.
         So while I appreciate what you're saying about the cumulative loss, I believe that's inaccurate and that the city would be protected, and that money is built into the base in this budget and going forward. Do you agree?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: I will say that the mandate, which could be called unfunded, could be called partially funded, is something with an upper limit that the Senator has admitted he does not know the extent of.
         And I would also like to ask the Senator if he would agree that the transportation fund will not cover New York City's cost 100 percent for the private bus service.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman, are you asking Senator Flanagan to now yield?
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Yes, sir.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Flanagan, do you yield?
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: And I would ask, again, I would remind the members to please direct through the chair.
         Senator Flanagan.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Mr. President, I believe I understand your question correctly. You had suggested that this was an unfunded mandate. I differentiated to say that it is a funded mandate, not in its entirety. And that's part of the point. I said there was a $5.6 million appropriation and that would offset some of the costs that would be incurred by the City of New York.
         I don't represent to you at all that it's fully funded. But certainly, at the same time, it is not unfunded. There is money appropriated to the city to address some of their concerns.
         And I'm not sure I heard you on the point about the $240 million. Are you aware that that is now back in the base for the City of New York on top of the $363 million that the city is getting as a result of this budget?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Mr. President, I acknowledge that there has been discussions about New York City receiving some of that money back in the budget. We on the Democratic aisle have not seen evidence of that.
         And also I would also point out that $5 million with an expense budget for providing public transportation to private students, public transportation for private students, could cost upwards of $100 million. That, sir, is a drop in the bucket.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Flanagan. Thank you, Senator Hoylman.
         Senator Krueger.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Would Senator Hoylman yield to a question, please.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman, do you yield to a question from Senator Krueger?
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you.
         Would Senator Hoylman be concerned if the City of New York had two different systems of transportation for school students, so that for one set of school students there would be this new underfunded mandate requiring school buses, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock, to pick up students at their schools and take them within 600 feet of their homes, and yet a second system of transportation for the rest of the school students that did not offer the same? Would that be a concern to him?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: I would be alarmed, aghast, but, based on what I've seen, not terribly surprised.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you. Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Krueger.
         Thank you, Senator Hoylman.
         Senator Marchione.
        
SENATOR MARCHIONE: Mr. President, I rise to discuss this bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Marchione on the bill.
        
SENATOR MARCHIONE: Thank you.
         First I would like to extend my personal thanks to Leader Skelos for his leadership throughout this budget process. Leader Skelos and Leader Klein have done a tremendous job in leading our conference with the other leaders as they advocate for our priorities, and thank you.
         As we've heard this evening, this is not an easy process to make these negotiations. And evidently no one really is -- the budget is not perfect for any one of us in this room. But, Dean, I do want to thank you for your efforts, your leadership, and your guidance.
         I would also like to recognize and thank the work of the outstanding Senate Finance Committee, led by Finance Secretary Rob Mujica. You know, these men and women have logged countless hours, late nights and weekends, working hard on the budget. As someone new to the process, I've been very impressed at the work ethic, the dedication of Rob and his staff. Charlie Vaas on Senate Finance has been so responsive and helpful, and I am truly grateful.
         I know that my colleagues share my appreciation and recognition of all of the professionalism of Rob and all of the men and women on our hardworking Senate Finance staff. We all thank you.
         On the bill. Relative to minimum wage, I respect the opinion of my colleagues who have stood up and said we're not going far enough, but I don't agree with you. Minimum wage is a difficult subject and depending on where you are in the State of New York and who you're listening to, whether it's the Business Council, Unshackle, or just any one of us in this room.
         You know, the minimum wage at $7.25, if it had been indexed, would be at $7.92. Coming at $8 in January of 2014 is truly being indexed. It's not going to be something that we're all going to agree on.
         And I think that's what the negotiation process is all about. I didn't want to look at a minimum wage increase at all, but we have. And as difficult as it is, I think we have made great progress.
         Relative to 18-a, I've listened to some of our colleagues state that it's a tax increase. I don't know if you remember, but it was the Republican Conference and some of the IDA who stood up in public forum and said we didn't want to increase the taxes, we thought they should expire immediately. But the budget came down from the Governor with a five-year sentence.
         The negotiated process, again, is not perfect where we would want to be. It says three more years. But you know it goes down every year. And the businesses and the people, whether they're rich or they're poor, are going to see relief from what we've done.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Marchione, excuse me.
         Can I have some order in the chamber, please. Please.
         Senator Marchione, you may continue.
        
SENATOR MARCHIONE: Thank you.
         We're going to see some relief in what we've done. So I believe although neither side is thrilled about what's occurred, the negotiated process through the budget has continued.
         Next I'd like to discuss the SAFE Act, which is also part of this bill, which I'll call my kumquat.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR MARCHIONE: And I will tell you that I am going to be voting in favor of this bill even though the SAFE Act is part of it. If I felt that voting for this bill would somehow, some way, weaken the legal challenge of the Second Amendment advocates against the SAFE Act, I would be voting against it.
         Earlier today I spoke with Tom King, head of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, and Tom has assured me that this amendment will not affect their legal challenge. The amendments that are in this bill don't go nearly far enough. This law, in my opinion, needs to be repealed.
         Nearly 128,000 people, the vast majority of them New Yorkers, have signed my online petition in opposition of this gun control law. Seventeen Senators have voted no. Fifty-one counties out of 62 have passed resolutions in opposition of the SAFE Act. Fifty-one county sheriffs have spoken out and been opposed to the SAFE Act. I believe that such strong, principled and unified opposition sends a crystal-clear message that the new law was the wrong policy.
         The effort to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the Second Amendment rights of all New Yorkers continues. Going forward, Second Amendment supporters need to widen our focus on programs and policies such as the one from DCJS that pits neighbor against neighbor and New Yorker against New Yorker. We need to stop these bad policies and programs, and we must continue standing strong by standing for our freedoms.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Grisanti.
        
SENATOR GRISANTI: Thank you, Mr. President. Just a few comments on the bill.
         First of all, I want to acknowledge Senator Ball for actually having legislation in this particular bill that, for those of you that may have glossed over it, has to do with the Veterans Cemetery, which would actually be the first one in the State of New York. So I give you a lot of credit for actually pushing this forward.
         Secondly, even though he's only been chair of the Education Committee for three years, we don't have to apologize to anybody for the increases we've been giving for education year after year, for the downplay of the gap elimination adjustment, and for the numerous programs that's happening -- prekindergarten program, extended learning time, community schools, early high school programs. You know, workforce training, job opportunities. There are a ton of things in this bill that are going to help disadvantaged youth and other youth move forward.
         And with regard to the minimum wage, I'm totally against the minimum wage if it didn't have what we actually put in the budget. The minimum wage was last increased in 2009, not seven or eight years ago as was mentioned previously.
         And if anybody looked at the two dozen studies that were done, when the minimum wage was increased the last two times it disemployed, disemployed ages 16 to 24 because the businesses could not go ahead and keep people full-time. They took their full-timers that were 20, 21 years old and cut them down to part-timers. On top of that, you have us at a competitive disadvantage with our neighboring states. So that's why you can't go ahead and vote for the minimum wage.
         Now you can, because it's an incremental, slow increase and we give tax credits for businesses so they keep the employees, not being disemployed, as over two dozen studies have shown.
         And last but not least, what else is in there is the chargebacks for the colleges, which is very important in my district.
         And also with regards to the DREAM Act, ladies and gentlemen, before I got here, TAP was cut for graduate students that are here legally or came here through the proper channels. TAP was cut for graduate students. So before you talk about the DREAM Act, you need to restore TAP for the graduate students so they can continue on, those students that were here legally and that came here through the proper channels such as naturalization.
         With that said, Mr. President, I vote aye.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger for the second time.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you, Mr. President. And happily the rules of the Senate allow you to stand up and speak multiple times on the same bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: This is the second and last time, Senator Krueger. You may continue.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Well, I have to make sure I get everything in, then, Mr. President. Will the sponsor --
         (Laughter.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: I'm most certain you will.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: First, I like to thank Senator Marchione for saying "kumquat" on the floor of the Senate. It is the first time I have heard that fruit referenced in the 11 years I have been here. So thank you very much. Oh, excuse me, George Latimer and then Senator Marchione.
         Would the sponsor -- I think in this case Senator DeFrancisco as sponsor -- please yield to a question.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Does Senator DeFrancisco yield?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: He does.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you.
         There is a section of this bill -- and we're calling this bill ELFA: Education, Labor and Family Assistance. My colleague George Latimer referenced, you know, a fruit basket. I would argue it's the kitchen sink.
         But Section HH, sweeps and transfers, which was originally Part M of the PPGG language bill, which we did already -- and it would be more logical if this section was in there, but it's here, so I have to ask about it here.
         So there is a sweep that transfers $20 million from a dedicated revenue fund for transit to the state's general debt service fund. Aren't sweeps from dedicated transit funds prohibited by the lockbox law that we passed in this chamber and became law in 2011? So how are we sweeping from a lockbox?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: You want to know why, what it's for?
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: I want to know how. How are we doing it?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger, members, please direct through the chair.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry, Mr. President. Through you, I'd like to know how and why both.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Okay. "How" is that we put it in a budget bill. And we're going to vote on a budget bill, and that's how it's done.
         "Why," because the state issued bonds on behalf of the MTA and this money is being used to pay those bonds so that people outside of my district can continue riding the trains.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Through you, Mr. President, if the sponsor would continue to yield.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The sponsor yields.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: So I believe the sponsor's answer was because we put it in the budget bill.
         But, again, just citing the lockbox bill we passed less than two years ago, we're supposed to have a fiscal emergency declaration announced to the public in order to take money out of that lockbox. Is there a fiscal emergency announcement I missed either in this bill or somewhere else?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: No. You didn't miss anything other than the fact that it's not a lockbox. This $20 million was taken from another part of the budget, but it was not a budget that was subject to the lockbox provisions.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Through you, Mr. President, if the sponsor would continue to yield.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The sponsor yields.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: So for me to try to make sure I understand, we are sweeping $20 million from the -- let me make sure I have it right -- the MMTOA account and moving it to the general debt service fund. But the lockbox law we passed in 2011 isn't supposed to apply to the MMTOA?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: That is correct.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: I want to thank the sponsor.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: You're very welcome.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: On the bill, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger on the bill.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you. I don't actually think I agree with the sponsor on that issue, but we can revisit that after the bill, since it is 1:30 in the morning.
         And again, I guess there's a reason we are doing this bill at 1:30 in the morning. I guess following my colleague Senator Gipson, you know, the vampire theory, it's better to pass bills that have absolutely nothing to do with what they're supposed to deal with at 1:30 in the morning because how many people are looking.
         Clearly, for those who don't follow budget process and our desperate need to change our budget process, this bill looks the way it does because even if it's not the last bill we will be doing tonight, clearly it was the last bill that went to the printer this year. And so anything and everything that had fallen off the table or been put on the table at the last minute, or somebody held their breath till the last possible day for printing, got thrown into this kitchen sink bill, Mr. President.
         So I just want to highlight that there are so many different things in here that you could say hooray or you could say, oh, my goodness, what are they doing at 1:30 at night.
         So people have talked about the education funds, and there's some good news and some bad news in the education funds. And actually if it was just a school funding bill, I might even be able to vote for it. But it's not, because it also is creating all these changes in labor laws.
         My colleagues have talked about minimum wage. They have argued pro and con: It doesn't go far enough, it goes too far. It shouldn't be indexed because we're in a low-inflation-rate period and it really wouldn't help -- except you have to understand indexing is conceptually something you do over the long haul.
         And if we had indexed minimum wage correctly all these years, at least according to Senator Gillibrand, our New York State Senator, we would be at close to $10.50 already. And she's arguing and urging her U.S. Senate to move a national bill for minimum wage, indexed, $10.50 to start. And I support her in that. But I know we could do that here as well. Perhaps not as far as fast, but surely we could be doing $9 with indexing. And we're not.
         And we do some scary things, but I'll talk about that when we get to the revenue side, the next revenue bill, or whenever we do the revenue bill, because we do some additionally scary things to the minimum wage in that bill.
         And then you might say we've done some okay things with OCFS in here. We've even thrown in an antifraud program for STAR, which I personally like. I suspect a number of my colleagues don't. But I certainly don't want people cheating on their taxes. We need every tax dollars to provide the services we are supposed to serve.
         And I am disappointed and yet not surprised that yet again my colleagues in the Senate decided that they needed to throw the Tenant Protection Unit funding out of the Housing agency -- even though it mostly applies, 99 percent, to the City of New York, it's actually funded by the City of New York rather than through the state, to ensure a fundamental consumer protection for almost a million people living in rent-stabilized housing who, up until a year ago, barely had any access to a government agency to cross-check violations, represent basic consumer protections for them, or do anything to some horrendous violators in the system.
         And so it's a shame on a $142 billion budget that we would actually argue against $5.8 million to ensure a Tenant Protection Unit where we're not even really spending our own money, we just don't like it on principle. And so I'm very disturbed that they cut the funding out of this budget for that.
         Then we have an unemployment insurance reform system which several of my colleagues already tweeted tonight: Hooray, we're doing unemployment insurance reform and workers' comp reform and saving businesses a billion dollars. I actually don't know if the number is a billion dollars, I just was reading somebody's tweet.
         But I do know when you do a system for change in the unemployment benefits in New York State, which already pays the lowest rate of unemployment insurance in the region, and you declare victory because between now and 2018 the payment per week will go up a whopping $45, so a $5 increase per year until 2018, I don't really see that as much of a reform.
         Now, the good-news part of it is we will help pay back our federal obligations because we borrowed a lot of money from the federal government. So we'll pay it back more quickly, and that's good news. Although if we had done the right reforms multiple years ago, we never would have found ourselves in this situation.
         And ironically, if you look at the fine print, you will start to understand that some workers, the lowest-wage part-time workers already likely living in poverty, are the ones who are going to get dropped out of the unemployment system. And I don't really see that as much of a reform to be particularly proud of. So that's a problem for me.
         Now, the pension smoothing, as one of my colleagues explained, is controversial. It's not as bad an idea as it started out. It's still a bad idea. Although it's local option, so I hope the localities realize they shouldn't be taking bad options for themselves.
         Then you get into all these really interesting sections where you also say what is it doing in a bill that's called Education, Labor and Family Assistance? So we have a labor piece agreement for gambling casinos, which we're not doing in this budget, but I actually think the labor piece idea is a great idea. But we never dealt with the casinos at all, so it's a little confusing why we're dealing with just this section.
         And then we have a Moreland Commission set of recommendations which, by the way, I like. But they used to be in the TED bill, where we were dealing with energy, not in the ELFA bill. Again, very confusing at 1:40 in the morning.
         Then there's a section on repowering power generation facilities. That also, not clear why it's in ELFA. We are talking about changing VLT rules. Again, why in ELFA?
         And then we get to all these new bonding authorizations for capital projects. Now, one would think those would have gone into the capital projects appropriation bill. We did that one. And yet within this bill we're dealing with law involving the retention of a football stadium. I think that's the Bills stadium, if I'm right. Is that right? Yes, the Bills stadium.
         Bottle bill sections. Sales revenue bond tax fund, sales tax revenue bond financing program. State storm recovery capital fund. Changing education law involving bonding. Authorizing issuers for the Dormitory Authority and other authorities. A lot of bonding. A lot of changes in the law allowing different kinds of bonding. It's just a little weird to me that it's in ELFA, because that's probably where the public would be looking for information about back-door borrowing by the State of New York and the skyrocketing cost of debt for the State of New York.
         So you can find something you like, you can find things you really don't like. You can make the argument half the things in this bill shouldn't even be in this bill. Which leaves me deciding that there's enough in here not to like to vote no.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Nozzolio.
        
SENATOR NOZZOLIO: Thank you, Mr. President. On the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Nozzolio on the bill.
        
SENATOR NOZZOLIO: Mr. President, my colleagues, there are many things, as pointed out tonight, that we disagree over, many issues that one side of the aisle doesn't see the same way as the other side of the aisle.
         But there's one thing that's undeniable, one thing that we all agree about, and that's the fact that we would not be here participating in this democratic process if it were not for the sacrifices of our nation's veterans.
         I stand and rise to congratulate Senator Greg Ball for the leadership he's displayed in establishing for New York State what 42 other states have already established. But in New York, for a variety of reasons, we had not participated up to this moment in the establishment of a state-run veterans cemetery system. Now we will be joining those 42 other states. Now we will have the opportunity to work in partnership with the federal government to establish and honor those veterans who deserve such recognition.
         On the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, in the heart of Finger Lakes region, we have established on a place of hallowed ground, where over 750,000 sailors trained to participate in the battles of World War II, and since then over 250,000 airmen trained in preparation for defending our nation. Over a million sailors and airmen at this base trained to protect American interests, to protect our nation, to fight against the despots who tried to destroy our democratic way of life.
         Mr. President, Sampson is a location now of a veterans cemetery, one that we established in conjunction with federal regulations. We have put in motion the opportunity because we could no longer wait for New York State to act, that local veterans in the Finger Lakes region and all across the state have supported the establishment of a veterans cemetery on this hallowed place where these sailors and airmen trained and made many sacrifices in all wars, beginning in World War II through the current conflicts in Afghanistan.
         Mr. President, when someone asks you or any member of this house where are heroes, they only need to go to those veterans cemeteries across our state. Those heroes who are buried there sacrificed much -- in some cases, their lives, to defend freedom, to defend our freedom.
         Thank you, Senator Ball, for your leadership on this very important subject. And thank you, my colleagues, for supporting this legislation as we move forward to establish veterans cemeteries all across New York State and allow cemeteries like Sampson to participate in this very worthwhile program that over 42 states are now going to be participating in.
         Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to discuss this important issue, and I certainly look to supporting this excellent legislation.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Nozzolio.
         Senator Ball.
        
SENATOR BALL: I would just like to take a moment to -- for those members here who served with me in the Assembly -- Tom, you were there; right? So you know I was a little bit of a pain over in the Assembly.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR BALL: Yeah, little bit of a pain. And I still am a pain. But I have to thank my colleagues because instead of being a pain in public and in session in the Assembly, I'm just a pain in conference.
         And on the veterans cemetery, I know that I've been a pain. But to our leader, to Dean, to Senators Nozzolio and Little and others that have fought for this for many years, and to each and every one, I thank you. We lose over a thousand World War II veterans every single day, and we all have veterans in our district who I know come to each and every one of you, and I know to me, and say: "Greg, I'm getting older, and I would like to be buried in a veterans cemetery." And now in New York State we are so much closer to that cause.
         So thank you for putting up with me. And it's been an absolute pleasure. And, Dean, thank you very much. God bless you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Ranzenhofer.
        
SENATOR RANZENHOFER: Thank you.
         Those very humble and heartfelt remarks are very hard to follow. But just a couple of remarks, Mr. President.
         During my first couple of years here, no matter how you felt about the budget, we were here into the months of July and August. And one of the things I just want to say is that through the collective leadership throughout the Senate and the Assembly, for the third year in a row we're going to show New York that we can pass a budget on time.
         Whether you believe it's a grapefruit or a kumquat really doesn't matter. The point is that there have been a lot of discussions, a lot of deliberation, and everybody has had the opportunity to participate through conference committees and discussions within your own conferences.
         And no matter what decision that you make in life -- who you marry, what school you go to -- there are always pros and cons. And this budget is no different than any tough decision that we have to make in life. There are good parts of the budget and there are parts you don't like as much.
         But one of the things I just want to talk about is just a couple of priorities for me and the district that I represent. When I first came here, we fought against the energy tax. And this was an opportunity to this year do away with the energy tax.
         Is it as quick as I would have personally liked? No. Is it as dramatic in the first year as I would have liked? No. But at the end of the day I can report to the residents of the 61st District, both the homeowners and the businesses, that for the first time in a number of years we have started the process of eliminating that energy tax, which is going to help homeowners.
         Another point which I want to talk about is the gap elimination funding. And whether or not it's done quickly enough or not quickly enough, the bottom line is that at the end of the day we are making progress towards getting rid of that gap elimination funding. And that's not only important for something that's very important to all of us, which is educating our students, but this has the added effect because back at home a lot of the school districts are talking about, well, this is then going to affect property taxes.
         And by doing what we are doing here collectively, we are, in addition to the property tax cap, holding down property taxes at home, because we have added funds to the gap elimination adjustment, which is very, very important.
         And just one other minor point which I want to touch on which is not a minor point to the residents of my district. Initially there was a Moreland Commission recommendation that applied to all companies throughout the state which would have been devastating to many employees in my particular district. Cooler and smarter heads prevailed and said, well, this doesn't make sense. A one-size-fits-all doesn't make sense for the entire state. And we were able to craft legislation which made sense in the areas where it's going to be implemented and made sense in the areas where it's not going to be implemented.
         So I just want to close by thanking my colleagues again. You know, this looks like a process which -- again, you know, I appreciate the debate, I appreciate the other opinions, I appreciate that this budget is not a perfect result. But at the end of the day, it's a good result. It's a good result for New Yorkers. Whether you're living at the tip of Long Island, whether you're living in the 61st District, at the end of the day, on balance, it helps families, it helps businesses, and it shows New Yorkers that we're able to get our work done on time just like they have to do every day.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Larkin.
        
SENATOR LARKIN: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I don't want to belabor the evening, because I'm getting close to time to be on that dollar, you know. But I want to thank my colleagues for what they've said on this bill.
         John Flanagan, you're a hero in my district and I hope the rest of the state, because John Flanagan told you what really is going on, the real score. And I hear some of you arguing about it. Go talk to the Governor. After his name it says "D." After the Assembly leader it says "D."
         But getting back to the couple of issues that I'm deeply concerned about. I've had the privilege of working with Senator Ball on the cemeteries. We've gone to Washington, we've gone to New York, we've gone to cemeteries around.
         Some of you, it doesn't really hit you. It does me. Two years ago when I went to a reunion on the 1st Cav Division, there were four out of our battalion. When I go to the reunion in September, I have been told that I'm the only one left out of that battalion of 1280 people.
         These people don't want to get buried in a cemetery 100 miles away, they want to get buried in a cemetery where they can go. John Bonacic and I have been very, very fortunate in putting a cemetery in Orange County. With a lot of help, we've put benches in there for reading time where they can just take time to think about the loved ones that are buried there.
         But the federal government is saying, Here's some money, New York, get off your -- and do it. What's said here in this bill, how we should do it, how it will come about, how will funds. Again, I ask you to think about your grandfather, your uncle, your nurses -- your mother or sister who was a nurse and killed. Think about it.
         Bring it all the way up to today. Seven hundred Americans are dying every day that were World War II combat veterans. Bring it closer to home: 192 American female officers have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, 591 severely injured. Case -- how bad? How long? Just think about it.
         Yes, I carry my military service on my shoulder because I had the opportunity as a young lieutenant from South Troy, New York, to command an all-black company in Korea. It wasn't called African-American. But they're dying. And that blood is the same on you as them.
         And I challenge you to support Senator Ball and the leader who's given us the blessing to go ahead with it. It's very important. It's something that you can't get away from. Take a look at your newspapers. Here in Albany it shows you someone with the flag and tells you about his service to his country, or her service to the country.
         So a bill in front of us that covers, encompasses a lot of things. As many people on this side of the aisle have said, there's nothing perfect. I remember the two years we were in the minority, and I remember the 12 years I was in the minority -- Michael was with us, John was with us. We were in the Assembly. We never even got to discuss like you folks do on this side today.
         So let's sit back and maybe instead of finding all the fault, think back and say, you know, maybe I'm a little at fault. I never went across and asked Senator Flanagan, I never went across and asked Senator Ball, never asked Kenny LaValle. Think about it. You're at fault too just to sit here, 1:55 in the morning a.m., and say all of these things.
         Think about -- go through your notes and say how often did you walk across the aisle or go from the Capitol to the LOB or LOB to the Capitol and say "I don't understand, can you explain to me." Just look at the State Insurance Fund that's in there that Jim Seward's doing.
         Let's do a little more cooperate and graduate. And don't forget those who made this the best damn country in the world.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Martins.
        
SENATOR MARTINS: Thank you, Mr. President.
         You know, there's a lot of good things in this bill, and I will be voting aye in support of this bill.
         I think it's important that we clarify a couple of things. There's a billion dollars in additional aid to education.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Can I have order in the house, please.
         Senator Martins.
        
SENATOR MARTINS: Thank you.
         There's an additional billion dollars that's going to help each and every one of our school districts. In my district, those districts that are most in need, the highest-need districts, including districts that have 87 percent free and reduced lunch, are getting more. And it should be that way. This budget addresses the needs of our local school districts in ways that frankly I haven't seen in my time here. And it's a testament to the hard work of everybody who put this budget together.
         And is it perfect? No. But it's the product of compromise. And I think if you look through this bill and you look for perfection, you're not going to find it. You're going to find a product that was arrived at because we're willing to compromise, which is also important.
         It's a big state. We have 19 million people who live in this state, and I can guarantee you that people who live in Buffalo and people who live in my own district in Nassau County don't necessarily see things eye to eye. I can also guarantee you that people who live in my district and people who live in Senator Addabbo's district, who are only a few miles away, may not necessarily see things eye to eye as well.
         But it's through this process that we're able to reach compromise. And it's through this process that we kept a budget limited to 2 percent increase in spending and we're able to provide the kinds of things that we're talking about today.
         There was a comment made about pension smoothing a few minutes ago, and I think it's important that we comment on that, at least that I do, because I find it important that we do provide opportunities for our local governments -- our villages, our towns, our counties and our school districts -- to be able to avail themselves of relief where they need it.
         And for those of us who understand what it's like to run a local municipality and where our pressure points are, this portion of our budget that deals with pension reform is every bit as important to our local municipalities as that increase in aid that I just mentioned.
         The ability of our municipalities to find relief from these pensions that are strangling their ability to meet the responsibilities not only to our taxpayers and to their residents, but also to our children that they're educating, this portion of our bill that deals with pension smoothing is extraordinarily important, especially now as we understand the pressure that pension costs are placing on our local municipalities.
         And it's an option. It's an option that we give, it's a tool that we provide for our local communities. And it should be.
         So for those who look at it perhaps as something less desirable, I would suggest that perhaps we should trust our local communities -- our villages, our towns, our counties, our school boards -- to make the right decisions for themselves, to understand that as pension costs go up, they will also come down, and they need relief today.
         So for the City of Yonkers, for the Village of Mineola, for our school districts, they need relief today. And they'll provide that relief and they'll find that relief through this bill, but they'll also find that relief when those pension costs come down and they're able to address those costs without penalizing those students who are going to school today. Because those students who are in our schools should not be without simply because they happen to be going to school at a time when our pension costs are at the highest that they've ever been.
         So yes, this pension-smoothing portion of this bill is important. It's very important to all of our school districts. It's very important to all of our municipalities. It makes a difference, it will make a difference in the bottom line, and it will make a difference in our ability to continue to provide quality education to our kids.
         So, Mr. President, I'll be voting aye. But I want to congratulate the Governor and I certainly want to congratulate the leadership of our chamber and certainly Senator Skelos for his leadership on this issue. This option, when it comes to pension smoothing, provides options for our local communities, and that's where we should be.
         Thank you very much.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator LaValle.
        
SENATOR LaVALLE: Thank you, Mr. President. Very briefly.
         But I did want to take a few minutes to talk about what we did for community colleges, critically important for every member. And whether you are in the City of New York or from Montauk to Niagara Falls, we have done, I believe, an excellent job.
         We've increased base aid for the second year in a row, $150 per FTE. One of the things that came up in Senator DeFrancisco's hearing last year and again this year was remediation, where we're spending $70 million at our community colleges to have remediation programs. And we're not sure, after spending $70 million, whether we're getting students on course and out the door to get a degree or a certificate program.
         We established here a program called GAP, Graduation, Achievement and Placement. That's our remediation program for the State University. City University has also a program, ASAP, which is an excellent program. But we put money in the budget to ensure that our localities are covered. And also a work training program, to make sure that our community colleges have programs to get students into either certificate programs or degree programs that will ensure that they have a job at the end of their education.
         And lastly, Senator Grisanti had mentioned contract courses that have been a very perplexing problem. We have codified the recommendations that were made in the SUNY/CUNY report to our Higher Education Committees and to the Legislature.
         I will be voting in favor of this budget. Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Rivera.
        
SENATOR RIVERA: Thank you, Mr. President. I will be brief.
         While I can certainly support Senator Larkin, Senator Zeldin, Senator Ball and certainly Senator Nozzolio on the particular part of the bill that they pointed out as far as veterans cemeteries are concerned, I have to agree wholeheartedly with my colleague Senator Latimer. And I have to say that we are looking at a bag full of kumquats, ladies and gentlemen.
         Let's make sure we take stock here. I'll talk briefly at the end about minimum wage and the DREAM Act, but most of my colleagues have made a lot of these points, so I'll just repeat them all again.
         The 18-a assessment is not taken away. Something that has not been mentioned, this would be the bill that would include money for SUNY Downstate. It's not in there. The unemployment insurance that Senator Krueger pointed out.
         There's another thing that has not been mentioned, speed cameras, that were included in the Assembly one-house and were not included in this bill. The sweep of $20 million that was mentioned before. The lack of TPU funding. The minimum wage, well, that's -- that is the biggest kumquat of all, ladies and gentlemen. It is a bad, bad deal. Not only does it have no indexing, it goes up to $9 an hour a few years from now when it will be irrelevant. It does not include tipped workers. It doesn't have indexing. We're going to have this political battle a few years from now because we're not putting indexing in there.
         And far as the DREAM Act, and I just need to reiterate this, it is very simple. Those of us that support the DREAM Act believe that any person that has been successful in our educational system should have access to our higher educational system regardless of their immigration status. Maybe $26 million is what it would cost in a budget of $142 billion or 140-something. That is ridiculous. It is something that should be included here.
         So for all of those reasons, it is a bag full of kumquats. And, ladies and gentlemen, I do not like kumquats. I will be voting in the negative on this bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Flanagan.
        
SENATOR FLANAGAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
         Having listened to a number of the comments from our colleagues, I just want to comment overall on the education budget. And I want to thank Leader Skelos and Leader Klein for their advocacy.
         You know, if you look where we started, the Governor gave us a good template. And he deserves credit for putting more money into education. Based on what we did last year, if the Governor had followed the law we would have been starting out about $200 million less than where we were when he came out with his budget. So he in a positive way overlooked what we did last year, put more money on the table, put up a pot of about $200 million that everyone knew we were going to do something with. So where he started gave us a very good opportunity to move ahead in a positive way.
         I think two basic things stick in my mind. No matter what community you live in, no matter what your level of income, your education, parents want the same thing, every corner, every community in this state. They want access and opportunity for their child to have a quality public education.
         I believe with this budget that we are investing in public education and that we are properly funding, within the fiscal constraints that we have to, education in the State of New York. We should not have to apologize for the amount of money that's in this budget. Last year, $750 million, about a billion dollars this year. We are making very strong progress.
         And frankly, everybody who has talked about different parts of this budget, the education part of this budget, last year and this year, has the highest and largest growth compared to everyone. So we should all be proud of the fact that there is more money on the table.
         There are a couple of things. All of our colleagues talked about the gap elimination adjustment. The Senate advocated for the elimination of that in three years. And frankly, we didn't have partners the way we needed to with the Assembly and the Executive. But we put it out there, it's something our members strongly believe in.
         We reduced that by over half a billion dollars. That's very strong progress. High tax aid. People used to think about that as a downstate phenomenon. It affects 48 counties, over 300 districts. The way the Governor structured it was adverse to the interests of many communities up in Senator Seward's area, Senator Little, Senator Young, Senator Maziarz, Senator Farley. We fixed that.
         We did a number of good things. Reject the 4201 school cost shift; that was $16 million to those schools. Fourteen million dollars for teacher centers. Senator Farley, $4 million for libraries. Those are all very positive things that are contained within this budget.
         Can you pick certain things apart? Would someone want to change the gap elimination adjustment? Yes. Do I believe we put good money in for nonpublic schools? Do I support that for the safety of all kids, no matter what type of school you attend? I very strongly support that, and I think many of my colleagues do.
         So the way I think we should be viewing this is as a very positive step forward and how do we continue to build on this. We are going to have to talk about regional high schools, distance learning, technology and computers for kids in all communities across the State of New York, but that's going to be part of where we go. So no one should feel badly about what we've advocated for. In terms of public education in the State of New York, $21.128 billion. That is a lot of money, and that is a very strong investment in kids in every part of the State of New York.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Flanagan.
         Senator Savino.
        
SENATOR SAVINO: Thank you, Mr. President.
         Unlike some of you who seem to get livelier as the night goes on, I am not a person who likes to be up this late. Senator Gipson, I too hate being out at this time of the night. But of course what we're doing here is critically important.
         This is the ninth time that I've had the opportunity as a member of this body to vote on a budget, and I will tell you I have never, in the nine years I've been here, voted on a perfect budget. None of them have been perfect -- whether you guys were in charge, whether we were in charge, whether a conglomeration of us were in charge, we have never had a perfect budget.
         Yes, budgets are a product of disparate issues, Senator Latimer. This budget certainly is the same thing. But it's important and it's necessary because we are a disparate state of varied interests. It is what joins us all together. We are forced then to support issues that are not necessarily as important to ourselves but to each other. That's how this state runs.
         You know, this is a state that, while those of us downstate like to think the economic engine is Wall Street, it is not. It's agriculture. Those of you upstate don't understand our way of living downstate. And it's only by forcing us to deal with issues that seem to be disparate of nature but in the same package that we're able to move the state forward.
         There's a lot of good in this bill, in the ELFA bill. There's a lot of good things. You've heard some people talk about the increased education. Is it enough? Never enough. You've heard people talk about an issue that has taken several years to finally get dealt with. Is it perfect? No. But it is finally we are doing unemployment insurance reform. Raising the wage and indexing it there, but also finding a way to deal with the trust fund and making sure that we have a solvent fund going forward into the future.
         We're continuing in our efforts to deal with workers' compensation reform. Started it a few years ago, we're not done yet, and we're going to continue to work on it.
         But I remember an issue that I got involved in, oh, 15 years ago, long before I ever thought of becoming a member of this body. In 1998 I was a caseworker working for the city. I was very active, I went to work for my union. And one of my assignments working for the union was to attend a meeting of a new organization that was just starting, the Working Families Party. I don't know whether that was a punishment or an assignment at the time.
         But I went to the first meeting and, joining with other unions and other organizations, we formed the Working Families Party. We got a ballot line that year and the next year began what became a six-year campaign to raise the minimum wage in New York State. Six years it took to get that bill to this floor.
         And in July of 2004 the New York State Legislature, the Senate and the Assembly, passed a bill to raise the wage in New York State to $6 an hour, which would go into effect January of 2005, $6.76 in 2006, $7.15 in 2007.
         I actually went back and I looked at the floor debate on the day the bill was passed. And then, after the Governor vetoed it, I was here in this chamber as a Senator-elect as I watched the Senate override the Governor's veto, and I've looked up the comments on the floor that day. And nobody talked then about the importance of indexing. Everybody was very proud of the fact that we had passed a minimum wage, we tiered it, it was going to phase in over a few years, and that workers were going to get a raise.
         So I was somewhat perplexed by the demand that we had to do it by indexing this time. And while indexing is certainly something we should, you know, try and achieve someday, it is not necessarily the panacea that people think it is. According to the Congressional Budget Office economic outlook report which was put out in February of 2013, if we had started indexing the last time the minimum wage went up in 2009 when the federal government finally did it, and we started at $7.25, we would not reach $9 an hour until January 2020.
         Now, it's very hard to predict the future of the CPI. But according to the Congressional Budget Office, we wouldn't get to $9 an hour until January 2020. Well, under the minimum wage that we're passing, while it may not be perfect and I always think workers deserve more, we're going to get to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, long before indexing would get us there.
         Quite frankly, ladies and gentlemen, indexing is better for the business community than it is for workers. And the best reason why is it gets people like us out of the business of tinkering with the wage floor. We stopped trying to politic on it. In fact, the best way for workers to get a decent wage is the old-fashioned way, by belonging to a union and getting in at the bargaining table.
         But in the meantime, we're going to take a step forward tonight and we're going to pass an increase in the minimum wage. Is it perfect? No. Is it enough? Never. It never will be. But it's certainly more than workers get now, and it's not nearly as much as they deserve.
         We're going to do a lot of good things in this budget, but we're never going to do enough for working people, in my opinion. But together, bringing together our disparate interests, our disparate opinions, we're going to come out with a product that helps working people across this state, whether it's local governments dealing with their rising pension costs, whether it's local school districts dealing with their education costs, whether it's workers being able to achieve a little bit more, earn a little bit more and spend it in their local economy.
         That's what we're supposed to do here, setting aside our differences, finding common ground, building consensus and doing the right thing for the people of the State of New York.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Hearing and seeing no other Senator who wishes to be heard, debate is closed.
         The Secretary will ring the bell.
         Read the last section.
         THE SECRETARY: Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Call the roll.
         (The Secretary called the roll.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Carlucci to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR CARLUCCI: Thank you, Mr. President. To explain my vote.
         I'll be voting in the affirmative, and I want to thank my colleagues for doing the same.
         Tonight we're taking a bold step. Right now we've heard a lot of talk. Right now the minimum wage in New York State is $7.25 an hour. That means if you work 40 hours a week, you're making $290 a week. If you work 52 weeks a year, 40 hours a week, you don't take an hour off, that's $15,080 before taxes. So I want to thank my colleagues tonight for taking the bold step to make sure that we raise the floor, that we lift people out of poverty, working people out of poverty.
         Another bold step in this budget bill is to put money into people's pockets. Right now in the Hudson Valley we have some of the highest utility rates in the nation. By taking this bold step of phasing out Assessment 18-a, we're improving the quality of life of people in the Hudson Valley and around New York State by putting more money in their pockets and increasing our opportunities to do business and attract businesses to grow in New York State.
         In addition, we're doing one of the most important things we can do and fulfill our commitment to provide an excellent education to our children. And we're doing that tonight by increasing education to our public schools by over a billion dollars.
         So, Mr. President, I'll be voting in the affirmative and I thank my colleagues for doing the same. Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Carlucci to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Senator Squadron to explain his vote.
         Again, a remainder, we're on the two-minute rule.
         Senator Squadron.
        
SENATOR SQUADRON: Thank you, Mr. President, in less than five minutes.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR SQUADRON: We have a moral obligation to those who work to make a better life for themselves, and even their work does not lift them out of poverty. We had an opportunity -- the President of the United States, representing a nation where the cost of living is significantly lower than it is in large parts of our state, called for a $9 minimum wage with indexing.
         We have a Governor who called for an $8.75 minimum wage this year. We are not delivering that promise to workers this year. We are not delivering that promise to workers next year. We are not delivering the promise of an increasing minimum wage that increases with the cost of living to workers at any point.
         It is hard to vote against any budget bill because of all of the things that are in it, but we must stand up and say this minimum wage is not the one that the workers of our state, of New York City and Buffalo and Syracuse and Rochester and every county deserve. So we must stand up and say no to this bill, yes to the amendment that Senator Espaillat put forward at the beginning. I was proud to vote yes on that.
         I wish we would have had a chance to vote on the DREAM Act. I wish we would have had a chance to vote on indexing. I wish we would have had a chance to vote on the minimum wage the President of the United States has put forward. We don't have that opportunity. So I sadly need to vote no tonight.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Squadron to be recorded in the negative.
         Senator Gipson to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR GIPSON: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I will be voting yes on this bill, but I do want to take this opportunity to say that I am really disappointed that this bill does not significantly address property tax relief. It is something that is critical to the people in my district as well as most New Yorkers. That's important because the way that school taxes are funded in many parts of the state are through property taxes, and it is creating great inequality in our school system.
         I am disappointed that this bill did not go far enough in addressing that, and I am hoping that in future sessions that my colleagues will look at my Equity in Education bill which would drastically change the way that we fund education. It would make our school system better, and I believe it would save all of our property owners a great deal of money in taxes.
         I also, of course, have to note that it's almost 2:30 in the morning. I appreciate my colleague's comparison using a fruit as a metaphor, but I'm going to stick with vampires. This is a vampire bill; we should be doing this in the light of day.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Count Gipson.
         (Laughter.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: In relation to Calendar Number 277, those recorded in the negative are Senators Dilan, Espaillat, Hoylman, Krueger, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Rivera, Sampson, Sanders, Serrano, and Squadron. Also Senator Montgomery.
         Ayes, 47. Nays, 13.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The bill is passed.
         Senator Libous.
        
SENATOR LIBOUS: Thank you, Mr. President.
         At this time could we take up, on the controversial calendar, Number 275, please.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Secretary will read Calendar Number 275.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 275, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2603E, an act making appropriations.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, why do you rise?
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, first, just to clarify. This is the Aid to Localities budget bill, if I'm not mistaken; is that correct?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: That's correct.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I believe there's an amendment at the desk. I ask that the reading of the amendment be waived and that Senator Avella be heard on the amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, as I review the amendment I rule that the amendment is out of order, as it attempts to direct appropriations. As such, it is an impermissible substitution under Constitution Article 7.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, I appeal from that decision and ask that Senator Avella be heard on the appeal, please.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Avella, you may be heard.
        
SENATOR AVELLA: Thank you, Mr. President.
         The amendment that I offer will fully restore the original 6 percent across-the-board cut in state funding for the provision of Medicaid services to people with developmental disabilities, which represents approximately $120 million.
         The budget before us tonight proposes a $90 million or 4.5 percent cut to all OPWDD non-for-profit supports and services. Combine that with the loss of matching federal dollars, that translates into $180 million.
         A full restoration, which my amendment says, of the $120 million cut contained in the amended Executive Budget proposal, with matching federal dollars, totaling $240 million, will ensure that the nonprofit providers of these critical services are not driven out of business and can continue offering residential programs and day services to those sorely in need.
         The disability service cuts proposed in this budget represent the largest single budget cut that this sector has ever faced, even after going seven years without cost-of-living adjustments and a series of smaller reimbursement cuts that add up to an estimated 9 percent budget reduction for these agencies, totaling almost $350 million.
         If these programs stop providing these essential services to this vulnerable population, then who else will? Who will take care of those living in group homes, unable to care independently for themselves? It will fall on the families of the disabled, who are ill-prepared and ill-equipped to be able to shoulder this responsibility.
         Eighty-five percent of the money spent by voluntary providers is on staff providing direct care support. A cut of this magnitude as proposed in this budget will result in thousands of jobs laid off across the state. And as Senator Tkaczyk said earlier, all the organizations are in every Senate district in every neighborhood in this state.
         Without the funding restoration proposed in this budget amendment, these budget cuts will threaten the quality of life for the 120,000 vulnerable people who need the continued and uninterrupted support. These OPWDD-funded service providers, already struggling financially, simply cannot sustain another funding cut. And, my colleagues, this is death by a thousand cuts. Every year they've had to assume another cut, and here we are making a very minimum restoration in this budget.
         And I can tell you, a number of these organizations are going to close. The result is thousands of workers out of work and hundreds of clients who need these services. Where will they go?
         And, Mr. President, my amendment seeks to do something which I think this body is always concerned about, and that is representing those who cannot represent themselves. And it also reflects the will of the members of this chamber who, when we voted the one-house bill, included a full 6 percent restoration, as well as the Assembly.
         So I urge my members to support the amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Avella.
         The question is on the ruling of the chair, a procedural question. All those in favor of overruling the chair signify by saying aye.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Show of hands, please, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris has requested a show of hands; it is so directed.
         All those in favor of overruling the chair please raise your hand.
         (Show of hands.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Ayes, 26.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The ruling of the chair is sustained.
         Senator Gianaris, why do you rise?
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, I believe there is another amendment at the desk. I ask that a reading of that amendment be waived and that Senator Krueger be heard on the amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, I have reviewed your amendment, and it also is out of order, as it continues to direct appropriations, which is an impermissible substitution under the Constitution, Article 7.
         I will call upon Senator Krueger for the appeal.
         Senator Krueger.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I rise to argue that my amendment is not only germane, appropriate, friendly, but the right thing for this house to do.
         In this amendment I offer today I'm proposing an expansion of the funds for the Aid to Localities appropriation bill currently before the house. Specifically, I am proposing an amendment which would add $200 million to AIM for cities, towns, villages through the Aids and Incentives for Municipalities program under the Local Government Assistance in the approps bill.
         The AIM program, also known as revenue sharing, is a mechanism to provide relief to localities. It has a proven history of success in the state and at the national level and, when sufficiently funded, it effectively suppresses the growth of municipal property tax levies.
         In fact, it was 1971, the State of the Union address by President Richard Nixon, where he laid out his proposal for revenue sharing and highlighted that the money should not stay at the highest level of government but should be distributed back to the people in localities in states where the real work got done.
         So while it's rare for me to stand up in support of Richard Nixon's economic policies, in fact he was ahead of his time and revenue sharing proved to be a successful model for assisting states, from the federal government moving money to the states, and, from our state and our state's history, moving that money to localities.
         Now, part of the problem is our model for revenue sharing is over 50 years old. And so in fact the Office of the State Comptroller and several academics have highlighted how we should reevaluate and change how we're distributing AIM funding.
         But, as has also been pointed out by every local mayor and county exec who came to testify at the budget hearings that I sat through with Senator John DeFrancisco and many of the other Senators here, what they're desperate for is money to make sure they can pay their bills. And they are desperate.
         They are desperate because of a number of different actions that we have taken where we have capped how much they can tax themselves in property taxes. We have decreased the funding to local assistance programs, literally through cuts of 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, year in, year out. We say we offer them solutions by allowing them to do pension smoothing, where they have to borrow money and pay it back with interest.
         Don't you think it would just be easier, fairer, and objectively a better model for us just to provide some additional revenue sharing?
         AIM funding has provided significant municipal property tax relief and, under my amendment, this AIM funding would increase by nearly 21 percent over current funding in the next fiscal year, providing $100 million to cities, towns, and villages outside the City of New York and $50 million to the City of New York.
         Now, in fact, for the record, we owe the City of New York over $300 million in AIM funding that we kept putting in budgets over the last several years but then, notwithstanding, never giving them the money. So $50 million is by and large a symbolic effort to recognize their needs and rights to revenue sharing.
         The amendment separately and distinctly states as an additional item in the amount of $200 million and refers to it as a single object or purpose in full compliance with the constitutional requirements set forth by the Court of Appeals. It's not only a legitimate thing to do at 2:30 in the morning with this bill, it's the right thing to do. And there is not a county, town, city or village in this state that wouldn't immediately recognize how important this money could be to them.
         I urge a yes vote to allow this amendment to go before the house.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Krueger.
         Again, the question is on procedures of the house. All those in favor of overturning the ruling of the chair signify by saying aye.
         (Response of "Aye.")
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Show of hands, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris has asked for a show of hands; it is so instructed.
         Please raise your hands if you choose to overrule the ruling of the chair.
         (Show of hands.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Ayes, 26.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The ruling of the chair is sustained.
         On the bill, Senator Kennedy.
        
SENATOR KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. President.
         There's a lot in this bill, and I believe much to be proud of. I rise to speak about the important initiatives that I am particularly pleased to see included.
         First of all, Operation SNUG. As many of you know, SNUG -- which is "guns" spelled backwards -- is an antiviolence program which combats gang activity and violence in communities across the state. SNUG officials act as our eyes and ears on the front lines in neighborhoods hit hardest by street violence. They partner with law enforcement to interrupt violence by intervening in potentially violent situations and striving to calm the situation before it turns deadly.
         It's an innovative solution to a problem that needs a sustained and relentless focus. Sadly, gang activity has taken hold of our streets, gunfire has torn through the homes and parks of our neighborhoods, and local families have had to endure the devastating consequences of death and destruction. And I believe that we believe enough is enough.
         God knows I wish gangs and the violence they bring weren't the problem, especially in cities like my hometown of Buffalo, New York. But the unfortunate reality is that they are. And we're witnessing it every single day. Homicides are up in the City of Buffalo and cities like Buffalo all across New York State and the nation.
         We can't pretend that this problem does not exist. We can't ignore it or wish it away. And there are too many lives at risk. The safety of our communities and the quality of life in our communities across New York State are at risk.
         By relaunching Operation SNUG, we'll cut down on gang activity, curb senseless violence in our streets, and make Buffalo and cities like it across our state safer. I wish to commend and thank all those involved for supporting this program which I believe will save lives.
         If this budget accomplishes nothing else, as it pertains to education, it increases our commitment to education. And what could be more important? Education is a stepping stone to success, and maintaining our commitment to students at our educational institutions is key to the future success of New York State.
         For years, we in Western New York have been fighting for fair and equitable funding for our schools. This year the Buffalo public schools will see an increase of over $10 million. State aid climbs upward for all districts in the Town of Cheektowaga, and Lackawanna schools will receive a 6.2 percent increase as well. These increases will help ensure that the students of Western New York are well-educated and prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.
         But there's so much more to do. School districts in cities like Buffalo need enhanced state support in order to provide the educational opportunities our children deserve. Every student in New York State deserves access to a high-quality education. The location of your home should not determine the educational opportunities presented to our children.
         Nelson Mandela once said "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Without the opportunities that a quality education provides, we're sentencing our children to a lifetime of hardship. The children of Western New York need our support. And as long as I'm their State Senator, I'm going to fight to ensure they receive their fair share in our part of the state.
         This budget also includes important funding for SUNY Centers of Excellence. The Centers of Excellence are hyperfocused on specific fields of study and geared to lead the way in our innovation economy. In Western New York we're privileged to have a Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and a second Center of Excellence in Life Sciences and Center of Materials Informatics.
         The UB Center in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences is a hub of expertise and innovation in upstate New York. This collaborative effort is generating groundbreaking research that is improving the health and well-being of people all over the world. Since 2001, the center has yielded 60 new life science firms and retained or created 5,000 jobs in Western New York.
         The Center of Materials Informatics will address the global shortage of advanced materials for new technologies in critical emerging industries. It will accelerate the discovery and commercialization of innovative new materials and give Western New York companies the competitive edge they need to thrive. The addition of $500,000 in funding will spur innovation, create jobs, and bring new business to Western New York.
         Also critical to growing our state's economy, strengthening our infrastructure, and rebuilding our roads and bridges is enhanced transportation funding. As you know, I've been pushing for more fair and equitable distribution of State DOT dollars to Western New York, in particular, Region 5, over the course of the last several years. I'm pleased that some large-scale transportation projects in Western New York were included in the 2013-2014 memorandum of understanding, projects that will create jobs, improve public safety, and put people to work.
         Many of these projects are scheduled to begin this summer, which will hopefully make it a healthy construction season. But we will not fighting for full restoration of the $176 million that our region was shortchanged in 2008 and 2009. We're hopeful that New York Works program and strategic transportation enhancement program will provide specific and significant funds for Western New York roads and bridges, in addition in this year's core funding.
         Our state must also ensure that Western New York receives its fair share of funding for our public transportation systems. The NFTA receives less state operation assistance per passenger trip or per revenue mile than the other upstate agencies, despite being the state's second-largest transit provider and the only upstate system with light rail service. We must address this issue moving forward.
         And in regards to OASAS, I believe this budget bill takes positive steps forward to help New Yorkers who are recovering or struggling with addiction. Many families don't know where to turn for treatment or what services are available to them when a loved one has fallen addicted. By improving the mechanism through which we refer families to these services, we can get our young people into treatment faster and ultimately save lives. This includes educating families in the recognition and intervention of opioid abuse and potential overdose.
         We must continue to support and improve drug prevention and education initiatives across the state. The OASAS budget includes a $42 million appropriation for chemical dependency prevention and treatment services. These funds are critically important for communities that have been hit hard by prescription drug addiction, especially in Western New York, where prescription drug abuse is sadly and unfortunately 70 percent higher than the state average, which is unfortunately and sadly too high as it pertains to the rest of the nation.
         Mr. President, I vote aye. Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Sanders.
        
SENATOR SANDERS: Mr. President, I'd like to speak on this bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Sanders on the bill.
         Can I have some order in the chamber, please.
        
SENATOR SANDERS: It must be late in the evening. It's getting very late.
         First, I want to applaud the people who fought over the creation and the preservation of SNUG. Senator Smith comes to mind, but so many of my colleagues in here also played their role, and I apologize if I don't know of everyone. I think it's one of the great things that this bill does offer.
         But then I remember a small place with a big scandal, a place called Willowbrook, a scandal that is seared in my mind. I don't know about you, but I remember it forever, the images of the population that was supposed to be taken care of by all of us in Willowbrook. And I remember hearing then that people were saying we'll never go here again, we'll never visit this place again, we will do everything that we need to do to make sure that this population is taken care of in a just fashion.
         But then I saw my neighbors made a pilgrimage up to Albany, and they came to see me. And they spoke and they said that there were real problems brewing with the cuts that were coming here, and they spoke of some horrendous cuts that at first I didn't believe were possible that we could do this to such a population. But then again, the fears were true.
         I'm glad that we were able to put some money back in here, but nowhere near what we're supposed to. So since the hour is late, I'm going to just say that there must be a better way. We've got to find a better way to balance the budget than on the backs of the OPWDD population. We've got to find a better way.
         And that's why I'm going to have to vote no on this one, although there are many good things in this budget.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Sanders.
         Senator Gipson.
        
SENATOR GIPSON: Thank you, Mr. President.
         Of course this is yet another vampire bill. But there is some very sad parts of this bill that I just want to speak to. This is a vampire bill. Not only are we driving a stake through the heart of democracy right now, we are also driving a stake through the heart of those families who really were counting on us to find a way to provide the amount of funding that they need to continue to have the services that the OPWDD provides.
         I really don't know what's going to happen to so many of these adults and children that I know we have all talked to over the last several months. I just don't know what's going to happen to them. They go to schools now that are going to be closed, they go to after-school programs now that are going to be closed. I don't know what's going to happen to the families who are depending on these programs. They're going to now have to find another place to put their children. They're going to have very limited options because we were not able to find a way to get them the funding that they needed to take care of this critical part of our population.
         We have a developmental disability crisis in this state, in this country, and we are simply not prepared to deal with it. So I am asking that my colleagues both in the Senate and the Assembly join me in continuing to find a way to fight for these individuals that desperately, desperately need our help.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Gipson.
         Senator Tkaczyk.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you, Mr. President.
         On the Aid to Localities bill, will the sponsor yield to a question?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes, I will.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco yields, Senator Tkaczyk.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you.
         The amount of money that was put back for the OPWDD providers was $30 million, yet during the conference committee process the table target was $40 million. Could you explain what happened to the other $10 million?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Excuse me, Senator DeFrancisco.
         I'm going to ask for some order in the house so the members can hear each other.
         Senator Tkaczyk, if you can speak up and please direct comments through the desk.
         Senator DeFrancisco.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: The table target at the conference committee meetings between the Senate and the Assembly?
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Yes.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: What happened to the other $10 million was that during the ultimate negotiations, whatever the table targets became were irrelevant. In fact, both houses actually called for, in their one-house budgets, a full restoration. So we couldn't get a full restoration, the table target was 40, during the negotiations it ended up at 30.
         The fact that there's a table target does not mean that's going to be the final result. Because there's another party involved, the Governor.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Will the sponsor yield to another question.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco yields.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: With regard to the impact of this cut on the developmental disabilities providers, is there any sense of how many group homes are at risk of closure because of this cut?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Through the chair, I can't give you specific estimates as to specific closures or how it's going to affect each group.
         However, the budget includes language to direct the Commissioner of OPWDD to institute a savings plan developed in consultation with a work group comprised of individuals with developmental disabilities, service providers, advocates and family members. The work group will make recommendations, subject to the approval of the Budget Director, on a series of actions to mitigate the funding reduction.
         That will include but not be limited to reducing provider administrative costs, achieving administrative efficiencies, pursuing audit recoveries -- maybe amounts that were sought by providers that they weren't entitled to -- and providing alternate payment models, services and programming.
         So it's not that simply there's going to be a unilateral cut. This group is to get together that consists of various stakeholders to try to come up with ways to save funding and use funding where it's most critical.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Will the sponsor yield to another question.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The sponsor yields.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: With regard to the group homes, I'm going to make a projection that we are going to end up seeing some group homes close. I don't know how many, but it's likely we'll see that happen.
         What happens to that group home and the individuals in those group homes?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Well, hopefully, hopefully we won't have closures. And if we do, we find alternate living arrangements.
         But as I say, I can't specifically say what specific programs or projects or group homes are going to be eliminated. Maybe none, if there could be some ways to have the cut made surgically rather than just across the board.
         And there's always a possibility of the economy kicking up and doing a little better, where more revenues come in than we anticipated or more grants coming in from the federal government. No one, including the Governor, even though he feels very strongly that this cut is important, is going to put people with developmental disabilities on the street. And we've got to act creatively how to fill this gap and do the best we can to deliver direct services.
         So I was unhappy, everyone on both sides of the aisle were unhappy that this couldn't be fully restored. But negotiations are negotiations. And as I mentioned before, the Governor believes that since these were overcharges that we have to pay back, we have to show good faith that we're correcting the problem where the overcharges were rather than simply ignoring it. And I think that is a big component as to why it was done.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Will the sponsor yield to another question.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Just a comment. I have this feeling that you're Liz Krueger in training.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Point of order.
         (Laughter.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger, what is your point of order?
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Was that an insult or a compliment?
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: It was just a fact. Just a fact.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: It's in the eye of the beholder.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: It was a point of information, excuse me.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Point of information so stated.
         Senator Tkaczyk, you may continue. Are you asking the sponsor to yield?
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: I take the sponsor's comment as --
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Tkaczyk, are you asking the sponsor to yield?
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Sponsor, do you continue to yield?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields. Please pose your question.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Okay, now I have lost my place.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Yes, okay. You mentioned that we had -- through you, Mr. President, the sponsor mentioned that we had to deal with the overpayment problem. Does the sponsor recognize that the OPWDD providers did not cause the overpayment problem?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Well, it depends on how you look at the report of the federal government. There was some comments in it about the high costs of administration, the fact that some of the owners of these companies were making hundreds of thousands of dollars.
         And if you look at the federal government's report, there was some culpability. I don't know if it's true or not, I'm not an expert in this area. But the report is pretty extensive as to what they thought caused the overpayment.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: Thank you.
         On the bill, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Tkaczyk on the bill.
        
SENATOR TKACZYK: I agree with everyone in this chamber that this is not a cut we should be encouraging or taking, and I'm really sorry to see it in this bill before us.
         And I want to be clear on the record, I do not believe the providers of these services were the reasons why we have to make repayments to the federal government. They didn't cause the overcharges, but they're being forced to take a significant cut.
         It's going to result in cuts to staffing. Those staffing cuts will result in a loss of services to people with developmental disabilities. Those are facts.
         Despite my disappointment that that cut remains in this bill, I will be voting for it because there are other items in the bill that I do support, such as the funding in the agricultural sections and in education. So I'll be voting aye, but not in support of everything in the bill.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Tkaczyk.
         Senator Marchione.
        
SENATOR MARCHIONE: Mr. President, I rise to explain my vote.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Marchione on the bill.
        
SENATOR MARCHIONE: Thank you. Like so many here, I am deeply troubled by the depth, the severity and the impact of Governor Cuomo's OPWDD cuts. It is a shame, truly a shame that the Governor's devastating budget cuts put OPWDD service providers and the families they serve in a deep $120 million hole.
         Those cuts are going to hurt the disabled. They're going to hurt families. They're going to hurt our providers. The Senate tried to resolve these cuts. The Democrats tried to resolve these cuts. This is a matter of fact and a matter of record. We did succeed in restoring some funding, but it certainly is not enough, not nearly enough. The reality is that we started out in a $120 million hole with the 30-day amendments from the Governor.
         This issue goes beyond partisan political lines. Republicans and Democrats, we all care about the developmentally disabled. We want to improve the quality of life for them and their families. We did our best to minimize their pain. We brought the cuts from 6 percent to 4.5.
         I'm not sure why the Governor has dug his heels in on this particular issue. I cannot believe that he wanted to do that.
         Going forward, I'm hopeful that that body, which has shown a commitment to care for, protect and defend the most vulnerable in our society, will do what it can to minimize the pain caused by these deep cuts. Individuals with developmental disabilities are the most inspiring people you will ever meet. They teach us all about the true meaning of courage, perseverance, dignity, and overcoming challenges. They are bright shining lights, kind, loving and generous souls. They are counting on us to make this bad situation better.
         After today, there are approximately 30 scheduled session days left. I believe and I hope that our Governor will take another look at this, and within that time frame I hope and I pray that he will make some changes to this. He has shown at this point that he has dug his heels in. I'm not in those leader meetings to know the conversation or why, but I would ask that he take another look at this and add some additional monies during that 30-day period.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Zeldin.
        
SENATOR ZELDIN: I rise, first off, to thank Leader Skelos, Leader Klein. This is just my third year I've been here. This is the most veterans-friendly budget that I've been part of.
         And Senator Ball, with his efforts with the veterans cemetery, which I have so much respect for, for what he did with that. Senator Klein, with the veterans tax credit, I know you have pushed hard. And we again were funding veterans services offices in Buffalo and New York City.
         And as we're here -- and one of my colleagues referred to this bill as vampire something or other. I think it's 11:30 a.m. in Afghanistan right now, and we have a lot of young men and women who are going to return home, they're going to look like they're coming home in one piece, but they're going to come home with the mental wounds of war.
         And we last year created the PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veterans Counseling Program in four counties, in Suffolk, Saratoga, Rensselaer and Jefferson. And this program has been a huge success. In Suffolk alone we are now helping 300 veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury off a $200,000 allocation, because people are stepping up to help veterans in need.
         And our service members are coming home, and their family members may not understand what they're going through, their friends, their business colleagues. They feel isolated and alone as they struggle with the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. And there is a void created by the federal government not doing enough for PTSD and TBI.
         And New York State, under the leadership of this Senate coalition and the initiative of Senator Skelos and Senator Klein, we're expanding, not only continuing this program in those four counties, but expanding it to seven new counties. And hopefully we can prove even further success because New York State found another way to lead the nation by leading the way in helping our veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
         I know staffers like Charlie Vaas and Sharon Carpinello have been very active on this effort as well. Colonel Larkin, Senator Ball, Senator DeFrancisco, Senator Sanders -- I know we have a lot of people who have served and hold our veterans close to your hearts. And I thank you all for your service on behalf of our veterans and your support of the PFSC Joseph Dwyer Program.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Good evening again, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Good morning, Senator Krueger.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Good morning.
         We're talking about OPWDD programs in the context of this bill. And we're all very upset that we couldn't make the restorations. I'm actually a little bit more upset about another section we talked about earlier but also included in this bill, the Mental Hygiene Stabilization Fund, because this year we're talking about now 4.5 percent cuts to organizations that we're hearing can't afford to take any cuts.
         But if you look what we did in the Mental Hygiene Stabilization Fund, because we've lost $1.1 billion annually in federal revenue and we put in $730 million we backfilled by cutting other programs -- and that's an issue for me. But next year our own numbers show that we're putting $445 million in, reduced to $267 million the next year. So with all due respect, as bad as we all think families with family members who need help from OPWDD and Medicaid funding are in this year's budget, they ain't seen nothing yet, because next year we're talking about hundreds of millions more dollars. We can't explain where they're going to come from, and apparently they're getting cut out of OPWDD.
         And I'm frustrated because we could be doing better. I don't understand why we didn't do the basic health plan ensuring our ourselves half a billion to a billion dollars in new savings in healthcare when we could be doing that. Soon we're going to be discussing tax cuts and rebates, and we've already approved bills allowing venture capital investments by the State of New York. And yet we're all miserable over the fact that we're going to cut services to families with severely developmentally disabled family members.
         And I'm pretty upset that we're not really talking about all the commitments we were supposed to make to other people with special needs in the State of New York that never even got into the budget, so we're not bemoaning that we're taking that out or cutting.
         We are basically still setting ourselves up where enormous numbers of mentally ill people end up in adult group homes that are completely inadequate for them. And ironically, even more mentally ill people end up in our prisons at a cost of $50,000, $60,000 a year -- not because they're criminals, but because they're mentally ill and there's nowhere else for them to go.
         And so I'll share in the bemoaning of the 4.5 percent cut we're not putting back, but we're kicking the ball down the field to a much bigger problem next year and the year after that. But we're also going to pat ourselves on the back on being able to give tax rebates for people up to $300,000 -- that's the next bill or the bill after that.
         And we're going to defer yet again a cost of living adjustment, not for ourselves, but for people who are making, on average, $10.31 an hour, the people who we actually think are supposed to be providing the services for OPWDD and mental health and substance abuse and our elderly. So they're going to get $10.31 an hour without any adjustment.
         And there was a reference to, well, if you get organized, you join unions, you do better than that lousy minimum wage, that should be the goal. But apparently that's not so true either, because they're not doing very well, and we're not helping them.
         There's all kinds of reasons one can say that one really just automatically ought to vote for Aid to Localities. It doesn't have the AIM additional funding that I thought we should have put in, but it does have some funding. If you vote no, does it imply you don't want any funding to go to all these important programs?
         No, I don't think so. I think I can stand here at 3 o'clock in the morning and say not only could we have done better, but I know exactly where we have the money to do better tonight. And so it's not the best we could do. It's not the best we could do by any measure.
         I vote no. Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Grisanti.
        
SENATOR GRISANTI: You know, what I urge my fellow colleagues to do is on March 5th of this year the Committee Report of the U.S. House of Representatives came out with their "Oversight and Government Reform" regarding the problems that we had with the federal government and the state over the past 15 years. And what it boils down to is the fraud and abuse that's actually involved in the Medicaid system that takes the money away from the people that need it.
         And I'll give you an example. When you read this report, they have a doctor that had 991 dental patients charged in one day. We had a Buffalo school district that put 4400 special education school kids on the Medicaid rolls in one day.
         And somebody mentioned about the organizations. Well, in the report -- and you'll be shocked -- it actually has the organizations that are supposed to be the presidents and CEOs and chief administrator's offices and the vice presidents of these organizations helping out people with disabilities. It's great, when you're in a house in a county, median earning $49,000, and the CEO of a center in Sullivan County is making $939,000 a year.
         When you add up the numbers in that report, it's about $50 million, about $50 million in salaries that's completely paid for by the Medicaid system. That's the problem, it's the fraud and abuse. And yes, that's what we need to attack is the fraud and abuse in the Medicaid system, to make sure that the money goes back to the people that actually deserve it.
         So we may be kicking the can down the road, but I've been saying for the last three years you've got to have a system that's set up that goes after the fraud and abuse. One hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing between the state and federal government, there's no oversight. That's what Senator DeFrancisco talked about with this new group that's going to be implemented. But there's still going to be abuse and fraud, and that's what we have to focus on.
         Other than that, the other items that are in this bill -- because nobody wants to see OPWDD cut. Unfortunately, that's what happens, so we have to work to resolve this.
         So I vote aye on the bill, Mr. President. Despite that, there are good measures in the bill. There's funding in there for UB2020 moving forward again, and other things not only for the district and the state moving -- yes, I did say UB2020. I don't calling it SUNY2020. But I vote aye.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I want to speak for a moment about the New York State AIDS Institute, which for 30 years has established New York State as a leader in preventing the spread of HIV and ensuring that people living with the virus get access to the care and support they need.
         Over the decades, the AIDS Institute's innovative, evidence-based programs and policies have led to dramatic reductions, Mr. President, in new AIDS cases and AIDS-related deaths, and to increased HIV testing and improved health outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS.
         Yet for all that success, New York State, Mr. President, is still in the throes of the AIDS crisis. Based on the state's latest available HIV/AIDS surveillance data, every day -- every day, Mr. President -- in New York State approximately 11 people are diagnosed with HIV, and five people die from the disease.
         Our state continues to lead the nation in the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 129,000 people, Mr. President, living with the disease and as many as 34,000 people who are infected but are unaware of their status. People of color continue to be disproportionately impacted, and nearly one-quarter of newly diagnosed HIV cases show a concurrent AIDS diagnosis.
         Now, many advocates raised the alarm during this budget process that the AIDS Institute was on the verge of extinction. While I appreciate that the AIDS Institute remains lined out as an independent center within the State Department of Health, Mr. President, I am dismayed by the 5.2 percent cut in the Institute's budget and the 5.5 percent cut in funding for its community-based multiservice programs.
         We have already suffered devastating federal cuts in HIV prevention, Mr. President, services and care included. Now is not the time for New York State to back away from this fight. We need a strong AIDS Institute to continue to meet the challenges, Mr. President, of this epidemic, and to lead us to the ultimate goal of zero new HIV infections.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Seeing and hearing no other Senator who wishes to be heard, debate is closed.
         The Secretary will ring the bell.
         Read the last section.
         THE SECRETARY: Section 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Call the roll.
         (The Secretary called the roll.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Addabbo to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR ADDABBO: Good morning, Mr. President.
         I want to take a second to thank all the staff that put the hours in on this budget. I think they did a great job.
         While I'll be voting yes on this portion of the budget because I think it does have many positive aspects, I think the need is to highlight the negative part of this, and that is the OPWDD cut and the bad message that it sends to those with disabilities, their families, therapists and the service providers.
         And the bad message is really this, in my opinion. Out of a budget that spends $135 billion, either we couldn't find the $90 million or why is this cut necessary. And I don't see it as a $90 million cut or the loss of $90 million in federal matching funds, but I do see over the course of the last three years a $300 million loss in funds. And to me it is a bad message that we send.
         So while I'll vote yes, Mr. President, because of the increased funding for veterans' programs in this bill and increased funding in EPIC, I do believe that we have a lot of work to do for those with disabilities and their families.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Addabbo.
         Senator Addabbo to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Senator Rivera to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR RIVERA: Thank you, Mr. President, to explain my vote.
         Much has been made in the last bit as far as the OPWDD funding. I will not reiterate, only to say that, as I stated earlier, it is a tragedy that we are not able to find $90 million in a 140-plus-billion-dollar budget to be able to make up the shortfall.
         But I will also point out that one thing that is good in this budget is that something that had been considered earlier which I termed the "bucket problem" has been eliminated. We are not considering programs in six different categories or buckets in the Health budget, but instead they are still line-itemed out.
         That being said, there was a 5.5 percent, on average, cut across the board. We're talking programs just like Senator Hoylman pointed out as far as AIDS testing or prevention, anti-obesity campaigns all across the state, anti-smoking campaigns all across the state, cancer screening -- all of these programs are going to be impacted across the State of New York. These are organizations that work very close to without having funding, and now they're going to have even less to do all the work that they need to do to make sure that we keep people healthy across the State of New York.
         For those reasons, I will be voting in the negative on this bill. Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Rivera to be recorded in the negative.
         Senator Carlucci to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR CARLUCCI: Thank you, Mr. President. To explain my vote.
         As chairman of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee, these have been some very challenging times. And I want to thank my colleagues for working with me and for standing in unity and speaking in one voice that we ask for the full restoration to the cuts for the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.
         And through your hard work and with the advocates throughout the state -- and in fact, I put together an online petition and we had over 15,000 signatures in a matter of days demanding that we restore those cuts to the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. And because of your hard work, we were able to restore $60 million in funding.
         And I look forward to working with many of you over the coming months to make sure that we find ways to continue to deliver the best-quality care possible to our most vulnerable populations.
         And we have so many people in this state that have not only dedicated their careers but have dedicated their lives to serving our most vulnerable populations. And I know if we continue to work during these challenging times, we'll be able to improve the quality of life of our most vulnerable populations.
         Also in this budget are some other important programs, and one I wanted to mention and thank Senator Zeldin for your leadership on, the Joseph Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program. We have veterans coming back every day from Afghanistan that are suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. We have to fulfill our commitment like our veterans have fulfilled to us to serve, to protect, to defend our freedom. We have to do everything possible to make sure that they come back to this nation, to our state, and have the ability to live the best quality of life possible. By expanding this Peer-to-Peer Program, I believe we'll be able to help veterans that haven't been able to get that help before.
         So I want to thank my colleagues for voting yes on this legislation and look forward to continuing to work with you in the coming months.
         I vote aye, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Carlucci to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: In relation to Calendar Number 275, those recorded in the negative are Senators Espaillat, Hoylman, Krueger, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Rivera, Sampson and Sanders.
         Ayes, 51. Nays, 9.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The bill is passed.
         Senator Libous.
        
SENATOR LIBOUS: Now can we take up Calendar Number 278, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Secretary will read.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 278, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2609D, an act to amend the Tax Law.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, why do you rise?
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, I believe there is an extremely in order and germane amendment at the desk.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: And I ask that the reading of it be waived and that Senator Gipson may be heard on the amendment.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Gianaris.
         As I have reviewed your amendment and examined it, I rule it to be nongermane to the bill and therefore out of order.
         Senator Gipson.
        
SENATOR GIPSON: Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to speak on my amendment.
         The amendment that I offer will allow the public utility gross revenue assessment, otherwise known as the Section 18-a utility tax surcharge, to sunset on March 31, 2014, as originally intended and enacted into law.
         National Grid estimates the annual impact of the 18-a extension on a typical large business to be $30,000, and $540 for a typical small business. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New York already faces the fourth-highest electrical rates in the nation. One reason for this is because of this so-called temporary assessment surcharge.
         This tax hits every single business and residence in our state and increases the cost of energy by over $500 million each year. My amendment aims to reduce the heavy burden of this tax.
         And, Mr. President, I know, in fact I'm complete confident, that every single member of the Republican Conference agrees with me. You might ask why that is. Well, it's because every single member of the Republican Conference signed their name to a letter on February 7th saying that they agree with the exact amendment that I am presenting to the floor right now. So every single member of the Republican Conference is in favor of allowing this utility tax surcharge to expire as it was originally scheduled by the amendment now under consideration.
         My amendment lives us up to the explicit promise we made to the people of this state in 2009, when the temporary fee was imposed. And to do otherwise, this would be a huge step backwards for the residents and businesses in our state. And it would compromise our ability to continue our slow and steady path forward in our economic recovery.
         Thank you, Mr. President, for allowing me to bring this important amendment to the floor that you and all of your Republican Conference members have signed a letter saying that they agree with.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Gipson.
         I will remind the chamber this vote is on procedures. All those in favor indicate that they would choose to override the ruling of the chair by saying aye.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Show of hands, please, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris has requested, and it is so instructed, a show of hands. All those in favor of overruling the chair please raise your hands.
         (Show of hands.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Ayes, 24.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The ruling of the chair is sustained.
         Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I believe there is one more amendment at the desk. I ask that a reading of that amendment be waived and that Senator Latimer be heard.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, upon review and examination I rule that the amendment is non germane to the bill and therefore out of order.
         I will now call upon Senator Latimer.
        
SENATOR LATIMER: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
         The amendment that you have before us we believe is germane because it affects the body of law that directly deals with the rebate program that is in this bill, Section 606 of the section of the Tax Law.
         The rebate program that is offered is called a family tax rebate program for those families at $300,000 annual income down to $40,000. This amendment would broaden that to include all families below $300,000. So that if someone has an income below the $40,000 level, that they too would be eligible for the $350 check. And very importantly, it broadens it to include all taxpayers, meaning senior citizens as well as those with families.
         We heard earlier today, very appropriately and very articulately, Senator Nozzolio, Senator Larkin talk about the tremendous role of the veterans in our society, many of whom are senior citizens and who, as Senator Larkin says, we're losing every day, people who have made a tremendous contribution to this society.
         It is those senior citizens in their home that suffer more from the problems of property taxes than anyone else does in our state. And as was the case in 2006, 2007, and 2008 when this house -- and I was pleased to do so in the other house -- voted for a broad-based rebate program, we believe that this rebate program should also apply to those people because that is very much what they need to have in order to have the right type of response out of our efforts today.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Again, the vote before the house is on procedure of the house. All those in favor of overruling the chair signify by saying aye.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Show of hands, please, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris has asked for, and it is so instructed, a show of hands.
         All those in favor of overruling the chair please raise your hand.
         (Show of hands.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Ayes, 26.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The ruling of the chair is sustained.
         Senator Gianaris, you may be heard on the bill.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Mr. President. Would the sponsor yield for a few questions?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The sponsor yields.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President.
         I first want to ask about a part of this bill that I was curious about because I'm trying to figure out what exactly its purpose is. There's a Part GG which establishes a Teen Health Education Fund, and I was wondering if the sponsor could explain to us what that fund is and what its purpose would be.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Part GG is a personal income tax checkoff for the Teen Health Education Fund.
         What is that?
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: I think Senator Klein probably has the best information about this, because it's his idea. And I would ask, Mr. President, if you'd recognize Senator Klein to give an intelligent answer rather than one that isn't so intelligent.
         (Laughter.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Without objection, the chair would recognize Senator Klein.
         Senator Klein.
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Mr. President, I'd be happy to explain it.
         What that piece does, it's the Teen Health Education Fund checkoff box, which is going to be on the state tax returns, and it's going to deal with several important issues dealing with teen health.
         First of all, one of the things we find time and time again, that there are certain issues that we're really not equipped to deal with that teens really don't know about. The education awareness surrounding young female teen health issues is one of the issues we're going to be looking at, as well as making sure we're dealing with the health risks associated with underage drinking and substance abuse. And we're also looking at other various diseases and areas that affect teens.
         One specific issue that we highlighted here a couple of weeks ago in Albany is endometriosis, which, when there's a failure to be able to diagnose at an early age, can really cause all types of problems for women, including their inability to have children, as well as ovarian cancer.
         We're very hopeful that this education fund check box will generate enough revenue to really supplement the existing programs that are out there now in schools throughout the State of New York.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Mr. President, would Senator Klein continue to yield.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Klein, do you yield?
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Yes, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: I'm just curious, as this educational program is going on in schools, who would administer it? Would it be some kind of public agency or a not-for-profit? Or who would actually take the state resources and apply it towards these educational programs?
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Through you, Mr. President, the money that would be generated from the fund would be given out to schools throughout the State of New York to deal with or supplement existing programs.
         I know one of the other issues that I did leave out which we're going to also include as far as this education process is the problem of obesity. A lot of times it's teaching young people how to eat healthy, how to eat right, how to get enough exercise. And that's part of some existing programs that already exist in our schools throughout the State of New York. These monies would supplement those existing programs.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Would Senator Klein continue to yield, Mr. President.
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Yes, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: And would the distribution of these resources be at the discretion of the Department of Tax and Finance or -- I'm just trying to figure out, who would the decision-maker be or how --
        
SENATOR KLEIN: The decision-maker would ultimately be the State Department of Education.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: And would Senator Klein continue to yield.
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Yes, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: In the list of possible educational programs that the Senator mentioned, I didn't hear anything about age-appropriate sex education. Would that be something that is at the discretion of the Department of Education to allocate these resources for as well?
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Well, we highlighted certain specific areas which we think presently are overlooked in our education system. But again, it would be at the discretion of the State Education Department.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Would the Senator continue to yield, Mr. President.
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Yes, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
         Please direct through the chair, members.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: So just to clarify, if the Department of Education saw fit to do so, it would in fact be empowered to allocate a certain amount of these resources to an age-appropriate sex education program; is that correct?
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Through you, Mr. President. Again, as far as sex education programs go in the State of New York, unfortunately they're rather piecemeal. Every school district kind of does their own thing. So again, enabled to apply those resources, the State Department of Education would have authority to grant monies to school districts for different types of education that's appropriate for that school district.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: If the Senator would continue to yield, Mr. President.
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Yes, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: I'm sorry, I'm just trying to clarify that answer because it's an important one for many of our members. Did I take that previous answer to be a yes, that in fact the Department of Education could, if it saw fit, allocate resources raised through this program for sex education?
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Through you, Mr. President, the answer is yes.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Klein.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Klein.
         Senator Gianaris, are you on the bill?
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Actually, I would like to ask, I guess, Senator DeFrancisco to yield on a different subject matter within this bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco, do you yield?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields, Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you, Senator.
         I want to now talk a little bit -- we've heard a lot about this issue throughout the evening and this morning, but I want to refer the Senator to Part EE of this bill, which relates to this new minimum-wage reimbursement tax credit. And what I wanted to ask the Senator is, as I understand it, this would provide for a tax credit equal to the increase in the minimum wage that we are voting upon today for employees that are between the ages of 16 and 19.
         And my question is, if someone is 20 years old and is making the minimum wage, does this tax credit have any application to an employer?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: No.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: And if someone is between the ages of 16 and 19 who is a minimum-wage employee -- I'm sorry, if the Senator would continue to yield. I forgot to ask.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you.
         If an employee is between the ages of 16 to 19 and is a minimum-wage earner and that employer chooses to give that employee a raise beyond $8 an hour, what happens to this tax credit?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: The tax credit is only to the extent of the minimum wage.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: If the Senator would continue to yield.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
         And by the way, it's not all 16-through-19-year-olds, it's students between 16 and 19 years of age.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields, Senator Gianaris.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Thank you. If I could just ask for a clarification, my understanding was that it was any employee 16 to 19 at minimum wage or students making minimum wage, not "and."
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: You're correct. We were misinformed in conference.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: No, I'm just kidding. No, no, I'm just kidding. It's students who are -- yes, 16 to 19, right. It doesn't have to be a student.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Doesn't have to be a student, okay.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, are you asking Senator DeFrancisco to yield?
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: No, on the bill, please.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeGianaris -- Senator Gianaris on the bill.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: You too? Where's Bonacic? Okay.
         On the bill, thank you, Mr. President. I thank Senator DeFrancisco for yielding. I know we're all --
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Excuse me.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco, why do you rise?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: May I just make a point of clarification? I just want to make sure I said it correctly.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Individuals between 16 and 19, not up to 20 years of age, and a student. Student is the -- you have to be a student.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gianaris, are you still on the bill?
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: Yes, on the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: All right, Senator Gianaris on the bill.
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: The hour is early and we are here passing these bills. We've heard a lot about vampires this evening. Honestly, I didn't even know what a kumquat really was until tonight. But I looked it up, apparently it's a citrus fruit. I don't know why there's so much hostility against it, but nonetheless there is.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR GIANARIS: But this is -- if we're going to go with the assumption that a kumquat is a bad thing, this is one big kumquat in this revenue bill that we're dealing with.
         The incentives are all wrong. I think a Senator earlier this evening talked about the last time the minimum wage was raised and all the disincentives that were created. Well, if that is true, which I don't accept, but if we go with that premise, then we are multiplying that exponentially by enacting this tax credit as part of a minimum wage hike.
         Let's think about the incentives for a moment. This tax credit applies only to 16-to-19-year-olds and students. So I don't know what happens to people who are 20 and above when the state is subsidizing the wage hike only for those in that one subcategory. I understand there's protections that are quite literally unenforceable in this bill which say that you cannot fire someone solely for them not being in that 16-to-19 age group. But we know what's going to happen. There will be reasons for people who are 20 and above, making the minimum wage, to be let go and replaced with 16-to-19-year-olds.
         Or worse yet, there will be situations where jobs are open, and you can bet your bottom dollar an employer who is being paid to do so by the state is not going to be looking at anyone 20 and above to hire for a minimum-wage job when they're getting subsidized to hire the 16-to-19-year-olds.
         Let's talk about those who are lucky enough to be in that category for a second, when they get hired. We're pretty much guaranteeing they're going to be stuck at the minimum wage forever, because the moment they get even a penny increase above the minimum wage, this tax credit goes away.
         Senator Peralta said it very well earlier; he said the state is paying Walmart to fire people. He's absolutely right. Not only is the state going to be paying minimum-wage hirers to fire people or not hire certain people, but the people they do hire are going to be stuck that this subpar minimum wage indefinitely.
         I don't know how any of us with a straight face can say that represents progress or represents a step forward in terms of changing the minimum-wage laws in this state.
         Earlier that week I called the minimum-wage deal a half a loaf. Well, some have called it a quarter-loaf the more we learned about it. And God help those people who are not in that quarter-loaf, because we've just made their lives harder, worse, for less pay and for fewer jobs. And what's involved in this kumquat that we're voting on today.
         Now, this revenue bill, as the majority is apt to do, contains a whole lot of things in it, some of which I support, which obligate me to vote for this. But this one piece of this revenue bill I believe is a complete disgrace. And I would hope, politics aside, that we come back and fix it. Because even by the rules of the game that the Majority talks about, we are incentivizing all the wrong behaviors and we're going to be hurting New Yorkers and those who are the lowest-earning New Yorkers with this provision.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Gianaris.
         Senator O'Brien.
        
SENATOR O'BRIEN: Thank you, Mr. President. On the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator O'Brien on the bill.
        
SENATOR O'BRIEN: I recognize, Mr. President, the hour is late, or maybe it's best described as too early now. But it's important to be heard on this portion of the budget because this portion is the part of the budget that creates jobs and cuts taxes for middle-class families and small business.
         Creating jobs is my top priority. This budget continues to grow our economy through investments in our Regional Economic Development Councils, new innovation hotspots and job programs that train our workforce and match workers with the jobs of tomorrow.
         This budget gives much-needed tax relief to middle-class families, a billion dollars over the next three years; extensive tax breaks and credits to small businesses that will put New Yorkers back to work. It provides millions of dollars in tax relief for small business. And this relief, coupled with reforms to workers' compensation and unemployment insurance, puts us well on our way to reestablishing New York's reputation as a business-friendly and business-welcoming state.
         This budget will provide entrepreneurs with greater opportunity to start new businesses right here in New York, thanks to the launching of the innovation hotspots program. High-tech incubators will work with our partners in higher education to encourage private-sector growth. And the innovation venture capital fund will provide critical early-stage funding to allow new emerging business to take root and to flourish here in New York.
         These strategic investments will provide the foundation for New York's long-term economic prosperity and security and will help ensure our state's entrepreneurs and young professionals stay here in New York State.
         The budget allocates tens of millions of dollars for our local universities and community colleges, transportation and infrastructure improvements in the Rochester region, and the preservation of Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes, the tourism-agricultural engines of the region.
         I support this budget's focus on creating jobs and growing our economy, and I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and my Senate colleagues to energize the upstate economy and provide New Yorkers with a bright future. I intend to vote aye.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator O'Brien.
         Senator Hoylman.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Mr. President, on the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Hoylman on the bill.
        
SENATOR HOYLMAN: Mr. President, it was Groucho Marx who said "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies." And I think that's what this revenue bill does. It diagnoses an incorrect problem and applies the wrong remedies.
         Mr. President, the problem with New York's economy is not taxes on families with children earning between $40,000 and $300,000 -- hardly middle class at that upper end. And certainly the remedy is not tax cuts in the form of $350 checks at a pop to be distributed to these families -- or should we specify voters -- at election time to the tune of $410 million. Is this so-called middle-class tax cut meant to stimulate the economy or stimulate voters?
         Numerous studies on tax cuts, Mr. President, including one released just last year by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, have shown that cuts of this size don't stimulate spending and economic growth. Mr. President, if we're lucky, we'll get a few thousand new owners of flat-screen televisions.
         Here is how the $410 million in middle-class tax cuts could have been specifically used to protect the most vulnerable in our society. We could have restored the full $120 million in OPWDD cuts. We could have increased community-college-based aid to $300 per student, an increase of $30.8 million. We could have provided $25 million to start up the DREAM Act. We could have provided $35 million in additional funding for the Summer Youth Employment Program I know so many of my colleagues are concerned about, to enable the program to serve twice as many youth.
         We could have provided $15 million for the Displaced Homemaker Program; provided $35 million in funding for food pantries, Mr. President, throughout New York State; provided another $17.5 million in additional funding for the Advantage After-School Program that assists working parents with childcare. We could have restored the $5.4 million, Mr. President, I mentioned earlier to the New York State AIDS Institute; restored another $20.5 million to dozens of public health programs so that we're investing in keeping people healthy rather than paying far more in treatment-focused spending; provided $10 million in additional funding for child advocacy centers that assist youth in the foster care system, provided $10 million in additional kinship care funding to assist family members who are caring for others; provided $25 million in additional funding for post-adoption services to assist financially those who have adopted children; provided $25 million in additional funding for nonresidential domestic violence services; provided $10.7 million in additional funding for the Nurse-Family Partnership to promote healthy families; and provided $25 million in additional funding for emergency homeless needs of those folks in New York City. And that leaves us $1 million on the table, Mr. President.
         It's my belief that this budget makes a choice between election-year budget gimmicks that will have no discernible impact on our economy and protecting the most needy and vulnerable in our society, and it makes the wrong choice. For this reason, Mr. President, I'll be voting against this bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
         Well, I think there might be several new Senator Kruegers here on the floor of the Senate. So I want to say ditto to Senator Hoylman on his arguments just then.
         You know, a quarter to 4:00 --
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger --
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: On the bill, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Krueger on the bill.
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: Thank you. I am not going to ask the sponsor more questions. See, you're all so happy. There you go.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR KRUEGER: But I am going to highlight again how dangerous the precedent is in this bill with the tax deduction tied into the minimum wage, which is really a setup for the people of New York to give money to billion- dollar corporations -- Walmart, McDonald's, Yum! Brands.
         It started out once upon a time, my understanding is, a few weeks ago as a proposal to support small businesses who might actually argue they had a problem if there was a minimum-wage increase. But in fact, now it's open to everybody, including utilities and banks and any size corporation with any number of employees.
         And as my colleagues have pointed out, not only does it doom you to $9 and never more, you're doomed to $9 and three years -- 16, 17, 18, 19; all right, maybe four years -- at $9 an hour, and then you age out and the company is going to make sure it's refilling with another person who they're getting $1.36 from the State of New York to help pay them.
         And they're going to tell that 20-year-old: Well, you have more skills now, so we'd like to give you more responsibility, but we actually are losing $1.36 on you now that you had the nerve to turn 20, so you'd better just keep taking the $9 an hour because otherwise we're not going to be able to keep you.
         So we're setting up a system to guarantee people never get above $9. And I have to say, the student argument, is there -- I told them I wouldn't ask any more questions, but there's no definition of student. So if the big box store sets up a pretend proprietary program, are you a student? You're a student who's never going to get the skills to go anywhere else but to stay there for the $9 an hour.
         So I have huge problems with the way this bill is written. It's a lousy deal. That specific tax credit is an exceptionally lousy deal. It's a dangerous precedent for any state who's looking at it. And in fact, shame on us, we should have known better than to go down the road of accepting a tax credit that's being marketed around the country in anti-labor states by companies like Walmart. We're supposed to know better, but apparently not.
         And then to jump on the point of my colleague about the tax rebate. So some of my colleagues have pointed out it could be family-friendly. Some of my colleagues have pointed out what happened to the elderly -- if they have the same income level, why aren't they eligible for the rebate.
         I'd like to highlight, what about people under $40,000 a year? We're spending a lot of time tonight talking about needing to help poor workers and having disagreements over what the best strategy is. But if I was making less than $40,000 a year, I'd be pretty pissed to learn I wasn't eligible for the rebate, because that $350 is going to mean a whole lot more to me than persons making $300,000 a year.
         And for the record, people earning less than $40,000 a year are paying taxes to the State of New York. They pay a whole variety of different types of taxes. But they even, from $20,000 to $40,000, pay personal income taxes where, even if they're eligible for credits, they still are paying more in than the $350 they could get back.
         Except we cut them out. But we didn't cut people at the $300,000 mark out. Or we pretended we were calling it middle class. So in fact, ironically, probably in my district more people will be eligible for the rebate checks than in Senator President Griffo's district. Because I would assume there's probably more under $40,000 a year working families in your district than in my district. They couldn't afford to live in my district; they probably live in your district. But I would be mad that I wasn't eligible for this nice giveaway from the State of New York.
         And there's an awful lot of confusion about who's going to be eligible, what year are we using as the baseline year, was your child age 2 by then, under 2, is your child over 17½. I already quoted my support and reference for a Richard Nixon position earlier this morning, that he supported revenue sharing. So now I have to support my colleague from the right, E.J. McMahon, who put out a very interesting article today or yesterday highlighting what a really bad model of taxation this is and how nobody is going to get it right and it's the wrong way to go in tax policy and it's the wrong use of $410 million in state money.
         And again, to highlight assorted colleagues, boy, we have a really long list of things we could have done with that $410 million that would mean a world of difference in family lives in the State of New York. This isn't going to.
         But there are other parts of this bill that also raise all kinds of questions to me, and I will just highlight a few of them. Okay, I heard someone likes the innovation hotspot incubator program. I'm telling us all we'd better watch very carefully that it doesn't turn into the fraud and scandals of the Empire Zone program. You have to watch very carefully.
         And in this bill we're also creating venture capital funds. The State of New York shouldn't take taxpayers' dollars and then go gambling on venture capital. The market does that. Wall Street does that. And they lose most of the time. But if they win, they make sure they get a return on their money.
         So I'll say it again, as I've said it year after year, when the State of New York decides to invest in businesses, startups or in a venture capital model, we, meaning the taxpayers of New York State, ought to be treated like shareholders and be entitled to a return on the investment. And I bet that's not written into this bill anywhere, and it should be.
         There's a number of other small tax advantages -- for manufacturers, for veterans -- which I actually could support. But I'm so angry about this personal tax rebate system -- and I think I even tweeted asking, earlier yesterday, would our names -- yes, I tweeted -- would our names and the Governor's name go on the rebate checks. And somebody responded "No, of course not, the Comptroller's name goes on the rebate checks." But let's not forget when Governor Pataki had all the checks torn apart and rewritten with his name on them. And let's hope that's not what happens in 2014, if this part -- since this bill no doubt will become law.
         But I just want to go back to the minimum wage for a moment. We could have done the right thing. We had the votes to do the right thing. And instead we ended up with this mishmosh that actually will do harm through the tax incentive part of it. And I know some of my colleagues say if we did indexing, it wouldn't have made a difference. But you can't look at one or two or three years when you look at indexing, you have to look at the history of minimum wage.
         And again, I said it many hours ago, I guess yesterday, but if we'd had indexing since we had minimum wage, our minimum wage would be over $10 an hour. And you have to realize that inflation moves up and down depending on the year you pick, which is why indexing is so critical, so that you can keep up with inflation during high-inflation times and not go up during low-inflation times. But that's why it's so important for indexing.
         And then, just in closing, because I didn't know what that Teen Health Education Fund was either until Senator Gianaris asked Senator Klein. So it's interesting, because it's private money using the tax system to check off to go to teen health programs.
         I like teen health programs in our schools. I love the idea of more funding for age-appropriate sex education. And in fact Senator Klein also referenced endometriosis. And in fact teenagers who suffer from endometriosis -- and women will identify in this room -- can in fact have excruciatingly painful menstrual cycles. And you know what is the number-one recommended solution? And perhaps more teens will learn about it. Birth control pills are the best researched, documented solution for endometriosis pain in teen years. So maybe more of our teens will learn about that too, and wouldn't that be good for everyone.
         And yet, even though I like that section very much, I will be voting no on this bill.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Kennedy on the bill.
        
SENATOR KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, colleagues.
         I rise today to express my support for efforts to advance a fair and equitable tax code where millionaires and billionaires in New York State pay their fair share.
         We're talking about a lot of investment tonight and a lot of different areas that are important to the communities that we represent, including a billion dollars toward education. By decreasing taxes to the middle class to the lowest levels in nearly 60 years, at the same time making sure that the top 1 percent in New York State, the highest income earners -- again, millionaires and billionaires -- pay their fair share, that's how we're able to accomplish those goals.
         Wall Street may have recovered from the recession, but Main Street certainly has not. And when you come out to Buffalo, and I'm sure many of you will come out to watch the Super Bowl Champion Buffalo Bills in 2013-2014 in the newly renovated stadium, I can assure you that in Buffalo, South Park Avenue, Niagara Street, Jefferson Avenue, Elmwood Avenue could all use a little more help.
         And this measure that we have is not merely a two-year extension of current rates already in place. It's part of a sound, long-term plan for recovery that recognizes middle- and working-class New Yorkers, still reeling from high unemployment, shrinking savings accounts, declining home values, oftentimes these days they're at a breaking point.
         This is about our shared sacrifice. And if education and nursing homes and nonprofits providing vital services are tightening their belts, the millionaires and billionaires can do a little more a little while longer. If ensuring the top 1 percent pay their fair share is what we have to do to avoid dramatic cuts to critical state services, then I believe we're doing what's right for all New Yorkers by simply asking those at the very top to pay their fair share.
         This budget bill also includes historic preservation tax credits. It extends the historic property tax credit, helping homeowners in historic neighborhoods make improvements to their homes. There are neighborhoods in Buffalo who have had the ability to take advantage of these tax credits and the neighborhoods are thriving. Not only are the homes aesthetically pleasing, but these neighborhoods attract small businesses, thereby creating jobs, improving the economy.
         I hope to see more neighborhoods given historic designation, particularly Buffalo's old First Ward neighborhood, so that they too can take advantage of credits to improve the neighborhood, the district, create jobs, and provide a better business environment for the community.
         We've also extended the historic commercial property tax credit where, in Buffalo, developers have breathed new life into beautiful, important historic properties like the Statler, the Hotel Lafayette. By simply using this tax credit, projects like this have created jobs and are changing the look and feel of downtown Buffalo.
         The New York film preservation tax credit. I hope this tax credit will eventually be made permanent and that more film companies will look upstate, in Buffalo, Western New York, and other areas where they can use this tax credit for their production needs. This again will create jobs and opportunities for working men and women across our state.
         And last but not least, this budget provides hiring a vet tax credit for hiring veterans returning home from military service for full-time work. This credit will benefit military families across our state and ensure that we are doing everything we can to help those who serve this country and protect us every single day.
         Thank you, Mr. President. I vote aye.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Is there any other Senator wishing to be heard?
         Seeing none, hearing none, debate is closed.
         The Secretary will ring the bell.
         Read the last section.
         THE SECRETARY: Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Call the roll.
         (The Secretary called the roll.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Rivera to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR RIVERA: Thank you, Mr. President, to explain my vote.
         First of all, I'll point out something really quickly. It's interesting that we have an extension of the personal income tax surcharge and we have not said anything on this floor about that being a new tax. I recall a couple of years ago we had a long debate, Senator DeFrancisco and I, about that being a new tax, a new tax, a new tax, and not a peep has been said on this floor about that being a new tax. I'm happy that it's in there, by the way; I just want to point out how it was different a few years ago.
         But I do want to say, regarding the rebate checks from $40,000 to $300,000 a year, every family in my district, the median income of which is $25,000 a year, will be really happy to hear about that.
         And finally, as far as the minimum wage, we have already pointed out all the ways that this is a bad deal all over the place. This one is not a bold step. If it's a bold step, it's probably slipping on a kumquat and falling in a hole or something. Because in this case we're saying that we are creating a perverse incentive for employers to hire young people and then get rid of them once they hit 20.
         I think it is a bad deal all around, and I'm going to have to vote in the negative on this bill.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Rivera to be recorded in the negative.
         Senator Carlucci to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR CARLUCCI: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I want to thank my colleagues for supporting this budget bill. One of the major problems that we have here right now in New York is our unemployment, particularly for veterans. Right now, veterans coming back from Afghanistan are suffering an unemployment rate that's double that of their civilian counterparts. In fact, in many regions of the state it's over 10 percent for our veterans, of an unemployment rate.
         This veterans tax credit I believe will go a long way in helping sweeten the deal to make sure that we give our veterans the best shot possible at getting the highest quality jobs possible. So this veterans tax credit, it just doesn't give a blanket tax credit, but it rewards high-quality, high-paying jobs to those employers. We're giving up to 15 percent of that salary to a disabled veteran; 15 percent of that salary will be a tax credit to that employer.
         I believe this will go a long way. In Rockland County, we formed the Veterans Advisory Committee so that when we're up here voting, that I'm not voting in a vacuum but voting with the ideas, with the vision, with veterans in mind. And one of our goals is to lower the unemployment rate for veterans in New York State. And I believe with a strong bill like this we'll be able to be leaders in the nation, that this could be a bill that other states will follow.
         So we're fulfilling our commitment and standing up for our veterans. So I vote aye, and I want to thank my colleagues for doing the same.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Carlucci to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: Those recorded in the negative on Calendar Number 278 are Senators Espaillat, Hoylman, Krueger, Montgomery, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Rivera, and Sampson.
         Ayes, 51. Nays, 9.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The bill is passed.
         Senator Libous.
        
SENATOR LIBOUS: Thank you, Mr. President. Could we take up Calendar Number 273, please.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Secretary will read.
         THE SECRETARY: Calendar Number 273, Senate Budget Bill, Senate Print 2600E, an act making appropriations for the support of government: STATE OPERATIONS BUDGET.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Read the last section.
         Senator Espaillat.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Will the sponsor yield for a question?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco, do you yield for a question?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The Senator yields.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Through you, Mr. President --
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Excuse me, Senator Espaillat.
         Could we have some order in the chamber, please.
         Senator Espaillat.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Yes. Is the Tenant Protection Unit funded through this part of the budget?
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: No.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Thank you, Mr. President. That's it.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Espaillat.
         Any other Senator wishing to be heard?
         Senator Espaillat.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: On the bill.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Espaillat on the bill.
        
SENATOR ESPAILLAT: Two years ago we passed the rent stabilization laws, we extended them, anemically increasing tenant protection. But we were very optimistic that through the Governor's initiative we would get a Tenant Protection Unit to the tune of $5.8 million.
         That has not materialized. The unit is there, but the funding is not there. And so I am very concerned and distressed that it was not included in this budget.
         And I will be voting in the negative, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Is there any other Senator wishing to be heard?
         Seeing none, hearing none, the debate is closed.
         The Secretary will ring the bell.
         Can I have some order in the chamber, please.
         Read the last section.
         THE SECRETARY: Section 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Call the roll.
         (The Secretary called the roll.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Announce the results.
         Senator Gipson to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR GIPSON: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I will be voting yes on this, but I just want to point out that it's 4 o'clock in the morning. There's something wrong with this picture, because we are about to go away, and most of us will go to sleep. I am actually going back to my district and go right to work.
         (Laughter; groans.)
        
SENATOR GIPSON: But most of us will be going to sleep. Most of us will be going to sleep.
         And what's wrong with that is that the people that we represent are just now starting to get ready to wake up and go about their business. And that's completely backwards. We should be working in the light of day, not at the time when only the vampires are roaming the halls of Albany.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR GIPSON: And I would hope that after this experience, everyone in the chamber will become a cosponsor of the Vampire Voting Act of 2013 so that we never have to do this again.
         Thank you, Mr. President.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: How do you vote, Senator Gipson?
        
SENATOR GIPSON: As I said when I first stood up, I will be voting yes.
         (Laughter.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Gipson to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Senator Latimer to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR LATIMER: I rise not only to vote on this bill, but to apologize. I've been given a text from the New York State Association of Kumquat Growers --
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR LATIMER: Apparently they're not coming to my next fundraiser.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR LATIMER: So -- and Senator Marchione, I have gotten you off the hook, since I started it. So my apologies to anybody else who I've dragged into the KumquatGate of tonight.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Latimer, how do you vote?
        
SENATOR LATIMER: In the affirmative.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator Latimer to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Senator DeFrancisco to explain his vote.
        
SENATOR DeFRANCISCO: Yes, I vote in the affirmative.
         There's been a lot of banter about the lateness of the hour. It's been referred to in various contexts. But we, as Republicans and Independent Conferences, we believe we should at least work an eight-hour day. So we started our Finance Committee meeting at 9:13 this evening. We're now almost at a seven-hour point. And then we had a 15-minute session for the other bills, passed six bills in 15 minutes.
         So as far as the lateness of the hour, we all could have slept during the day, we got the budget done even before the Assembly started. So we should, instead of being criticized, be complimented for the industry in which we operate.
         And we are now done with the budget in a record time, and everyone is clearly conscious, clearly understands what's going on, and the public can watch all of our videos as we send them out to our constituents.
         Thank you.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Senator DeFrancisco to be recorded in the affirmative.
         Announce the results.
         THE SECRETARY: In relation to Calendar Number 273, those recorded in the negative are Senators Espaillat, Parker and Sampson.
         Absent from voting: Senator Gallivan.
         Ayes, 56. Nays, 3.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: The bill is passed.
         The chair recognizes Senator Stewart-Cousins.
        
SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS: Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Good morning, Senator Cousins.
        
SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS: You know, you hardly know where to begin with all of the kumquats and the declarations of how ambitious we all are. I will say that the Senate Democrats were here and in conference at 3:00 p.m., and so we too believe in being industrious and working hard.
         And I do believe that this is what this is all about today, this budget -- and you've heard back and forth that it matters, it matters to a lot of people. We were able to do good things for a lot of people. But there were people who were left behind in this budget. There were people who -- certainly the poor, the working poor and some middle class, developmentally disabled people who are left behind in this budget.
         This is about priorities and this is about making sure that all the voices are at the table. We congratulate ourselves and certainly my fellow leaders for cooperation, for compromise. I think we could have done better. I think we could have gotten a work product that was reflective of more of the voices in this state had it been an inclusive process.
         From the very beginning, when my colleagues stood up and talked about SUNY Downstate and talked about the concern of this huge segment of the population, and there's absolutely nothing but a promise of a study in lieu of something concrete for patients, for workers, for people who depend on that healthcare delivery system. We could have done better.
         We could have done better when we talked about our minimum wage. We know what we started with. The Governor started at $8.75 in 2013. We're at $8 starting on New Year's Eve.
         When we talk about what that matters, yeah, I think Senator Carlucci said that right now these people are making $290 a week. And at the beginning of 2014 they will be making $320 a week.
         These families, though, in our rush to give rebate checks, these families who at the end of $8-an-hour, 40-hour weeks, making $16,000, will not get a check. If they have a child or two children, they won't get a check. We're starting with people making $40,000 and going up to $300,000. And we're leaving a whole segment of the population behind, working poor who we're supposedly helping.
         And everybody's so tortured about the OPWDD. Everybody worked so hard. But all the voices weren't at the table. Maybe together we really could have done more than restore $30 million. Just think. And I know, yes, it will be matched, so it will be $60 million. But nobody feels good about that. Nobody feels good that we can maybe hope that providers won't be shut down and maybe we can find places to send the most vulnerable among us.
         We talked about our seniors, who won't take part in this rebate check, or our veterans. We did good things. I'm not here chastising people for what didn't happen, because you tried hard. But when we come together to do the people's business, when we talk about governing, when we talk about why we're all here, we know why we're all here. We're here because there are voices who aren't heard and there are people who actually depend on government to do the right things.
         There are Dreamers who hoped that they would have a shot at fulfilling that American dream. And yes, Senator Golden, you were right. We can't pat ourselves on the back. You were right. When we leave here, we will have had an on-time budget for the third year, and we can be happy about that.
         But our work is not done. We've left too many people behind, too many people who really need us to make sure that we redouble our efforts so that when the rising tide lifts boats, it indeed lifts all boats. But not just because the tide is rising, but because we really, really paid attention and had our priorities right.
         Thank you.
         (Applause.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Stewart-Cousins.
         Senator Klein.
        
SENATOR KLEIN: Thank you, Mr. President.
         I want to thank all of my colleagues for actually, I think, a very lively and I think educational debate.
         I do want to say a very special thank you to my co-leader, Senator Skelos. This was, I think, a very important process. And not only have we for the first time in 30 years passed an early budget, but we also passed the first bipartisan budget. And I think this was something that was very, very important.
         And I think by and large we did what was right for the residents of the State of New York. I don't think, in my memory of the Legislature, I have seen such a family-friendly budget. And I know everyone here expressed concerns about some that we left behind. And that's true, because whether it's making choices around a kitchen table or in the halls of the State Capitol, budgets are never easy.
         But New Yorkers need to know our goal, like theirs, is also rooted in the greatest good. And we kept our promise to increase the minimum wage for those workers who need it the most. President Obama earlier in the year challenged Congress to raise the minimum wage. Well, I'm not as optimistic as some of my colleagues that that's actually going to get done. But we kept our promise. In 2015, as President Obama asked, we will have a $9 minimum wage in New York State.
         And that's something important too, because over the last two years I made the case about, well, we're boosting minimum-wage workers. It is an issue of fairness. But it's also good common sense and good economics. Because when you give a minimum-wage worker an increase in salary, they're going to spend it. They're going to buy things in their local grocery stores, they're going to support their local economy.
         And according to a study that the Independent Democratic Conference put out last year, by increasing the minimum wage to $9, we're going to generate over $600 million into the economy and create close to 5,000 jobs. So that makes good economic sense.
         But we want to make sure that everyone benefits from this budget. And that's why I think our child tax rebate check is going to go a long way towards helping people. I think, if you ask somebody if they want $350 to offset the price of daycare, to maybe take care of that medical bill that they didn't know was going to be as high, to actually put more money in their pockets after the federal payroll tax was increased, they're going to say yes.
         And by the way, it is what it is, it's a child tax rebate. Because people under $40,000 in New York State don't pay taxes. So we're giving money back to taxpayers in the State of New York.
         This is the first budget in memory that I've ever seen that we actually give a small business income-tax exemption. You know, one of the things we always talk about is we don't do enough for small business, and I agree. And I believe the reason why we haven't seen job creation, the reason why we haven't seen an upstart in our economy is because we're not recognizing the fact that it's small businesses who grow jobs, who really generate our economy.
         So I think by actually giving a tax cut of 5 percent to businesses whose net income is below $250,000, I think that's an important first step.
         We also eliminate tax liability for manufacturers. As was talked about before, something that I think both sides of the aisle were advocating was the first ever veterans tax credit.
         You know, one of the things, if you look at the high unemployment rate in our state. When you look at the unemployment rate among veterans, it's close to 12 percent. I think we can do better, where our men and women serving overseas, fighting for our freedoms, the least they can expect is when they come back to New York they have a job waiting for them. And through this veterans tax credit -- a business tax credit of 10 percent of salary up to $5,000 for each veteran hired, and 15 percent of salary up to $15,000 for each disabled veteran hired -- when it's enacted we're not only going to reduce unemployment, but we're going to do what's right for America's heroes.
         Our teacher evaluation system. I know last session we devised a teacher evaluation system which was tied to funding. We saw when adults don't get it right, the children suffer. I think we made a very important fix to that piece of legislation that now we have a stopgap measure, that if the sides don't agree, we won't lose the funding that our schools so desperately need.
         The Teen Health Education Fund checkoff box, which I talked about before, I think is going to breathe life into health education programs across the State of New York.
         And first, also, I want to thank the members of our Sandy Task Force -- Senator Andrew Lanza, Senator Malcolm Smith. One of the things that we were able to do was really get out front on an issue that impacted that many of us. A lot of our recommendations that came out of the task force are actually in this budget. And I really want to thank all of the task force members -- Senator Sanders, I know Senator Addabbo was on the task force, and many, many others -- because I think we really set the mark for better planning in case of a future emergency.
         Now, thanks to the recommendations that were made, as our communities rebuild from the storm this budget requires that downstate gas stations that are located within a half-mile of highways and evacuation routes be prewired for and have a generator. We also create a microgrid system for the first time in New York so we can sure that areas of need, emergency centers, have power during an disaster. We also finally require that electric companies submit emergency response plans that would outline the prompt restoration of services following an outage.
         I also want to say thank you to our respective staffs. Both sides of the aisle worked very, very hard, led by my chief of staff, John Emrick, the Republican staff member, Rob Mujica. They worked long and hard, and I think the result today is a budget we can be proud of.
         So I want to wish all my colleagues a happy holiday -- happy Easter, happy Passover. And I hope we enjoy our break, because when we come back in mid-April, we've got to get back to work.
         So thank you, Mr. President.
         (Applause.)
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Klein.
         Senator Skelos.
        
SENATOR SKELOS: Thank you, Mr. President. And I truly appreciate the fact that you know what's germane and what is not germane.
         But this evening, this morning, we're passing a third consecutive early budget, and it's something that all of us, Republicans and Democrats, can be proud of. No messages and, Senator Gipson, it will be finally passed in the light of day. A little early in the morning, but it will be passed.
         We should also be very proud of the results of this budget. We have worked under a very compressed time schedule. We've gotten a lot of work done. And I believe and I know that we've achieved a budget that is fiscally responsible.
         This budget is pro-taxpayer, pro-family, pro-jobs, and builds on our successes over the past two years. For the third straight year, the state budget will keep state spending growth below 2 percent, which is consistent with the spending cap on local governments and school districts. The budget reflects the key priorities of the Senate Republican Conference, including elements of our Family Tax Relief Act.
         This budget helps families by providing a $350 family tax relief credit to families with children, those that earn between $40,000 and $300,000. I should point out that for those who are under $40,000 and are working, they get an earned income tax credit even though they do not pay taxes, which amounts to about a billion dollars a year. So individuals who are working, not paying taxes, are getting about a billion dollars a year in the earned income tax credit.
         It also extends the lowest middle-class income tax rate in 60 years that was due to expire next year. This will save 4.4 million taxpayers $707 million per year. The new budget will also continue the inflation indexing that will save taxpayers an additional $230 million next year.
         The budget also includes significant property tax relief. There's a record amount of STAR property tax relief in this budget, $3.4 billion, including $1.9 billion in property tax relief for senior citizens.
         This budget helps businesses and includes many elements of the Senate Republicans' Blueprint for Jobs plan, including a tax cut for small businesses that pay under the personal income tax, a reduction and phaseout of the 18-a energy tax surcharge, a tax credit for businesses that hire returning veterans, lower taxes on manufacturers, and expanded marketing of New York-grown farm products.
         This budget does more to help businesses create jobs than any other budget in recent memory. The budget also includes a minimum-wage increase that is reasonable and is phased in over three years, giving businesses time to adjust.
         There are important safeguards to protect businesses from the costs associated with the wage increase, including a new tax credit for employers with workers under 20. There will also be no indexing of the minimum wage for inflation. These same protections that will help businesses afford the higher-cost wages will also protect people from losing their jobs.
         The budget also makes tremendous investments in education of our children. We are increasing school aid by nearly $1 billion and ensuring that every region of the state is treated fairly. Local road and bridge funds will be increased by $75 million for the first time in five years.
         The budget balances the priorities of Democrats and Republicans and is a model for how government is supposed to work, and that's for the people.
         I want to thank Senator Klein and our colleagues in the IDC for helping us put an outstanding budget together. There were many individuals, some in the media, that said it wouldn't work, Jeff -- and we've all worked to make it work.
         I want to Governor Cuomo for working with us and listening to the concerns of Republicans and Democrats, people from all regions of the state, as we brought this budget together.
         I want to thank the chair of Finance, Senator DeFrancisco, not only for the great job he did this evening, but the days upon days of the hearings as it led up to the budget.
         John, we thank you, you did an outstanding job. Thank you very much, John.
         (Applause.)
        
SENATOR SKELOS: The staff, all the staff, outstanding job. But I just have to say Robert Mujica -- Robert, I don't know how you do it. You keep your composure. Any member, Republican or Democrat, you're willing to sit down with them, explain issues. You know the page, you know the number. And you really help us function well as a body and making sure that we have this on-time budget and, as I said, a good budget.
         So, Robert, I thank very much for your good work. Thank you, Robert.
         (Applause.)
        
SENATOR SKELOS: So maybe I'll get some bullet aid now.
         (Laughter.)
        
SENATOR SKELOS: Let me just say now, is there any other business at the desk?
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: Thank you, Senator Skelos. There is no further business before the desk.
        
SENATOR SKELOS: We wish everybody a blessed holiday season. And there being no further business, I move we adjourn until Monday, April 15th, at 3:00 p.m., intervening days being legislative days.
        
ACTING PRESIDENT GRIFFO: On motion, the Senate stands adjourned until Monday, April 15th, at 3:00 p.m., intervening days being legislative days.
         Senate adjourned.
         (Whereupon, at 4:32 a.m., the Senate adjourned.)