ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Several labor unions say more than $400,000 in contributions by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. since 2010 helped bring about the creation of an unusual taxpayer-paid subsidy last month to help employers offset a higher minimum wage in New York.

Senate Republicans, who had long opposed an increase in the minimum wage along with some business groups, called the unions' claim "complete and utter nonsense." Republicans senators never had any conversation with Wal-Mart on the issue, spokesman Scott Reif said.

In March, the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo increased the minimum wage to $9 an hour over the next three years, up from the current minimum wage of $7.25. The law also included tax credits for employers who hire seasonal employees ages 16 to 19 who are still in school. That subsidy is estimated at $20 million to $40 million a year with no cap on the payments.

The provision is expected to provide millions of dollars to big-box stores like Wal-Mart.

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