Two top lawmakers said Thursday that talks are ongoing for a special session of the State Legislature before New Year’s Day that could include a possible pay raise for lawmakers and a host of unrelated issues, including divvying up a financial windfall for infrastructure projects.
Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) also said, despite the pending holidays, that there’s no deadline for when they and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have to decide on a special session, other than pointing out the year ends soon.
“December 31st,” Skelos said when asked about a drop-dead day for calling a session.
The two leaders were in Albany to attend Cuomo’s presentation of economic-development grants. Aides said that as of early Thursday there were no plans for Cuomo to meet with legislators.
Silver and Skelos have talked about the possibility of enacting a legislative pay raise — which would be the first in 16 years. Cuomo, in turn, has pushed for stricter limits on personal use of campaign funds and on legislators’ per diems for travel expenses, and for public financing of campaigns, rank-and-file lawmakers have said.
But unrelated topics have also been raised, such as infrastructure, charter schools and college aid for children of illegal immigrants.
“There are discussions going on about infrastructure. Discussions going on about the State of the State (Address). Discussions about pay raise. Discussions about reforms … Everything is being discussed,” Skelos said.
Silver said he’d prefer to handle an estimated $4 billion windfall from national financial settlements in a special session rather than incorporate it into the state budget, which is due to be adopted March 31. He’d like to see it used for infrastructure.
“It’s a one-time revenue and it ought to go to one-time, extraordinary expenditures,” Silver said.