With available funds running low, Gov. Andrew Cuomo informed lawmakers Tuesday that he would support a special legislative session to approve additional aid for businesses and homeowners affected by flooding along Lake Ontario.
The state Legislature passed a $45 million aid package in July. Homeowners, farms and small businesses are eligible to receive up to $50,000 in grants. Local governments could get up to $1 million for infrastructure repairs and $500,000 for mitigation projects, according to the governor's office.
However, applications for funding have exceeded $45 million. In his letter to state legislators, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Cuomo wrote that he initially planned to request additional aid in his budget proposal next year.
"I've heard from many concerned applicants that they do not want to incur the delay and uncertainty associated with passing next year's budget by April 1," Cuomo said. "Many applicants have argued that they simply cannot wait seven months for funding. I find their arguments persuasive."
Cuomo added that he would support calling a special session of the state Legislature to approve more aid for communities affected by flooding. He proposed an additional $35 million for the flood relief program.
A special session would give Cuomo and lawmakers an opportunity to address other issues. The governor raised the possibility of a special legislative session last week as the state faces the possibility of federal health care cuts.
Congress hasn't acted to delay cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital programs and the Children's Health Insurance Program hasn't been extended.
The loss of Disproportionate Share Hospital funding would cost the state $2.6 billion, according to figures released by Cuomo's office last week. If the Children's Health Insurance Program isn't reauthorized and the state decides to continue the program on its own, it would do so without $1.1 billion in federal aid.
While Cuomo supports holding a special session, he admitted that there would be "no point" in having lawmakers return to Albany unless the proceedings are productive. He said there should be an agreement on an agenda for a special session.
"It is important that we act quickly to address our constituents' needs," he said.