Even when the New York legislature isn't in session, the governor has the ability to call a special session, forcing lawmakers to return to the Capitol to address specific issues. These sessions have been called for anything from plugging unexpected budget holes, to addressing legislative pay raises. Nick Reisman explains why Governor Andrew Cuomo is again calling for a special session.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo over the last month has been beating the drum for having the legislature return before the state of the New Year, pointing to federal funding cuts faced by public hospitals as one issue that could be addressed.
If we know the cuts will not be restored by December 31, I'm considering calling a special session calling the legislature back,” Cuomoa said.
This month, Cuomo raised alarms repeatedly over the lapsed Child Health Insurance Program. Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, in a letter issued Wednesday, said the legislature may need to return to find state money to keep the program up and running.
“It has been in existence for decades. They ended it -- $1 billion -- 330,000 kids in New York without health insurance because of their federal action,” Cuomo said.
But when it comes to these issues, New York has more time then Cuomo is suggesting.
The cuts to public welfare hospitals under what's known as the DSH program have been planned for years and could be balanced out by changes in state funding formulas. And Congress may still act on the children's health insurance program, according to Bill Hammon, of the Empire Center.
“It does seem; however, that despite all the arguments I'm making, the governor does want to have a special session,” said Hammon.
At the same time, Cuomo does not necessarily need the legislature to return, based on new budgetary powers lawmakers gave his office earlier in the year.
“It's kind of interesting that he's calling for a special session when the whole reason for giving him that power was to avoid having to call the legislature back,” Hammon said.
And on Tuesday, Cuomo suggested another special session topic: Adding $35 million in aid for flood-damaged cities. It's a move that could spur some Senate Republicans to return, but for now they've been non-committal.
Senator Jim Tedisco in a statement said there needs to be an agreed-upon agenda with the legislature, or lawmakers would be just spinning their wheels.
Cuomo, meanwhile, is framing the Republican-led federal government's actions as being aimed directly at New York.
“It is all hostile to New York. We have our work cut out for us,” Cuomo said.
For now, no date has been set for a special session.