ALBANY - Working an extra day means "overtime" to most people.
But for state lawmakers it's "special".
Members of the state assembly and senate have been called to Albany for a special session starting Wednesday.
“There are always some things that you didn’t get to and there are always some things you don’t have agreement on,” says Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday. Using authority granted to him in the state constitution, Cuomo ordered the extra time in the State Capitol for lawmakers primarily to address expiring mayoral control of NYC public schools.
The added session will mean added costs as well. Helping 2 On-Your-Side identify the extra cost of the extra legislative session was Ken Girardin, an analyst for the fiscally-conservative watchdog group the Empire Center for Public Policy.
“First taxpayers are going to have to pay to get the lawmakers to Albany. That means paying their travel expenses whether it be mileage to tolls or for the gasoline in the state issued cars that some them drive. And then when they get here they’ll have to pay per diems.”
Per diems are moneys paid to lawmakers to cover food and lodging while they are in Albany. The amount per lawmaker per day is $175. Multiply that by 213 lawmakers and that's $37,275 to feed and house them every day they're at the State Capital.
The capitol building and related offices must be open, secure and operational.
“There’s also hourly employees that work there who would be working in the Capitol this week if there weren’t a special session. So, all these things come together to a measurable cost," says Girardin.
An important array of issues do await lawmakers upon their return. In addition to control of NYC schools there's extending special sales taxes in certain counties, a possible ethics reform bill and some ironing out of relief aid for flooded residents and businesses along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
But Girardin points out in the roughly six month regular session lawmakers met in session roughly 60-days or about ten-days each month.
"If you had compressed that into a shorter period of time, you’d have paid less to have them travel back and forth," says Girardin.
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