Economy

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Governor Cuomo, at a large union rally in NYC's Union Square to raise the minimum wage, called out fast food chains  McDonalds and Burger King by name and accused them of “corporate greed” for under paying workers.

Cuomo, in an animated speech, says fast food chains make huge profits while relying on taxpayers subsidies, like food stamps, to make up for the low pay they give their workers.

Cuomo says he’ll by pass the legislature and create a state board to examine increasing the state's minimum wage for fast food workers.

Governor Cuomo is taking credit for the state budget’s turn around from huge gaps to healthy surpluses, but a watchdog group says  Cuomo is relying on future funds that have not yet materialized.

Cuomo often lists his achievements as governor when he gives speeches, and he likes to recount how he turned the state’s finances around, as in his Inaugural address earlier this year.

“We turned a $10 billion dollar deficit into a $5 billion dollar surplus,” Cuomo said on January 1st.

Governor Cuomo has spent the days leading up to this joint State of the State and budget message rolling out a number of new programs and proposals, including an anti-poverty agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, and tax cuts for small businesses.

Cuomo says as part of his budget, he’ll include a new phased in increase of the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by the end of 2016. In New York City, the rate would rise to $11.50 an hour. The governor says New York City is arguably “the most expensive market” in the U.S.

When Governor Cuomo gives his budget address on Wednesday, the state will begin the year with a $5 billion surplus, a big change after years of budget deficits.

When Cuomo first came into office, the state was facing a $10 billion budget gap. Now, in 2015 the state has a $5 billion surplus, the largest since the 1940’s.  The money is a one time windfall from various bank settlements, over charges of improprieties during the financial crisis.

The state Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli advises using the money for one time expenses. He says don’t confuse a windfall with a surplus.

Governor Cuomo wants to invest $1.5 billion dollars to help the struggling upstate economy, but there’s a catch. They have to compete for the money.

Cuomo says his budget plan will include an upstate revitalization fund, but it won’t be distributed to all of the state’s economically depressed regions. Instead, the seven regions will be competing for a share of the funds. The rules are, only three will receive grants of $500 million dollars each.

“Why the competition?” Cuomo asked rhetorically. “Because I believe in competition.”

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