Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to state lawmakers floated a proposed special session of the Legislature to approve flood relief for Lake Ontario communities.

As envision by the governor, the move would be designed to bolster the previously approved $45 million financial assistance package for homeowners and businesses impacted by the flooding.

Cuomo said he’s heard from those who have applied for relief over concerns that there would be a delay in securing more funding ahead of next year’s budget, due to pass by April 1.

“I would support a special session of the legislature to return and appropriate an additional $35 million for this program to fund all eligible applicants in a time frame that recognizes the urgency of the situation,” Cuomo wrote in the letter. “There are other pending issues that could also be addressed at a special session, including the financial hardship the State will face from potential federal cutbacks.

The letter was addressed to the bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate who represent the Finger Lakes region. Cuomo has previously opened the door to a special session of the Legislature to contend with cuts in funding for health care to the state amid financial constraints placed on public welfare hospitals.

But it’s also possible Cuomo is speaking to a very specific audience: Senate Republicans, who have in the recent past been hesitant to return to Albany outside of normally scheduled session days.
The letter comes as lawmakers in the state Senate held a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss issues stemming from the floods.

Senate Republicans last year balked at returning in December for a special session that would have helped pave the way for the first legislative pay raise since 1999.

Senate Republicans earlier this year were persuaded to return to Albany for an extraordinary session of the Legislature to extend mayoral control of New York City schools, which included a menu of upstate issues.

There are other issues Cuomo may want to see considered in a special session before the start of the regular legislative session, which will take place amid an election year for the 213 legislative seats and the governor’s own re-election bid for a third term.

GAMC Letter by Nick Reisman on Scribd