Cuomo says special legislative session unlikely

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a news conference in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany. (Sept. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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ALBANY -- A special legislative session to deal with the minimum wage, a pay hike for state legislators and the fiscal impact of superstorm Sandy is unlikely, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday.

Cuomo said he is going to be "preoccupied" with storm recovery issues for weeks to come. Also, "confusion" over what party controls the State Senate would make it difficult to forge any agreements, he said.

"So I don't think it's looking especially probable," Cuomo said in a radio interview.

Cuomo and other Democrats have talked about convening the legislature before New Year's Day to consider raising the minimum wage and deal with certain criminal justice issues.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) also had pushed for a pay hike for lawmakers, who haven't had a raise in 13 years. Assembly and Senate members earn a base salary of $79,500, but many receive stipends for serving on committees and in leadership posts, pushing average pay to more than $90,000.

Cuomo's appointees also could benefit because pay raises for lawmakers traditionally have included raises for state commissioners and other top aides.

Cuomo said he had been interested in a special session until Sandy hit.

Adding to the uncertainty, Democrats and Republicans are battling for control of the State Senate, with the outcome hinging on a lengthy recount in a Catskills-Capital Region district. Technically, Republicans are in control until Dec. 31, but if they ultimately lose the majority, there would be little incentive for them to agree to return to the State Capitol for a special session.

Cuomo also said it's "too early to calculate" Sandy's impact on the state budget. But he noted that unemployment claims in the state grew by 46,000 immediately after Sandy walloped the East Coast -- an increase of nearly a third.

"That is a serious economic consequence," Cuomo said. "This is a fiscal issue prompted by human suffering, so we know it's going to be bad."

Cuomo has said New York will ask the federal government for roughly $30 billion in aid, but hasn't made a formal request or spelled out specific aid areas.

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