The state legislature is back today in Albany to contend with a drastically different reality than the one it faced last week.
Two members of the Assembly have been found to have the virus. Schools across New York are closing. Bars, restaurants, and other businesses are being discouraged from opening. And Governor Andrew Cuomo is warning New York does not have the hospital bed capacity to manage the coming influx of thousands of coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, the calendar remains the same: A budget is due by the end of this month.
Here's what lawmakers will have to consider this week:
Paid sick leave: Cuomo earlier this year proposed a paid sick leave provision that would provide up to seven days of paid time off for workers at large companies, five for small businesses. The measure is being altered to include those who have quarantined in recent weeks.
Unemployment insurance: Thousands of people are being turned out of work as everyday life is altered and upended. Cuomo last week indicated the state's unemployment insurance will have been bolstered to handle the shock to the economic system the virus will have on New York.
Altering elections: Cuomo previously announced the gathering of petition signatures — a process that involves collecting signatures from voters in person — will be suspended starting on Tuesday and the total required for ballot access will be lowered. But some lawmakers want to see the state's presidential primary pushed back from April 28 to June. Special elections are also being held on that day for a congressional seat and the state Senate. For now, Cuomo has not weighed in on whether the primary should be changed to prevent people from congregating at the polls.
Adding to the rainy day fund: The response to the virus is costing the state a lot of money, both in real dollars and revenue. Lawmakers last week approved a $40 million coronavirus response appropriation to held fight the spread of the virus. Cuomo has called the federal legislation woefully insubstantial for New York when it comes to funding and reimbursement.
Adding to that complication is the latest federal package barring states from shifting Medicaid reimbursement rates for local governments — a provision that is baked into the current state budget proposal.
It's possible that New York, like other states, will set aside money in an approved budget for use down the road in combatting the virus. As Cuomo as said, this will take months to get under control.
Where the budget lands: Lawmakers and the governor have two choices: A "skinny" budget that deals largely with traditional spending needs, plus addressing the current crisis. Or, officials could seek a far more expansive spending plan that includes issues like the bail law, marijuana legalization and gestational surrogacy -- a prospect that could keep the Legislature in Albany much longer.