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Sandy issues create new sets of challenges for state lawmakers

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Albany/HV: Sandy issues create new sets of challenges for state lawmakers
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Governor Andrew Cuomo said tens of thousands of New Yorkers filed for unemployment benefits in the wake of Sandy, and as Zack Fink explains, this could have an effect on the upcoming legislative session.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says that Hurricane Sandy is making a big impact on the state budget.

"We believe that the week after the storm hit, the first-time unemployment numbers went up about 50,000," the governor said. "That is a significant, significant increase in this state."

Governor Cuomo was at the Javits Center Tuesday to accept donations and discounts from Sears, the latest company to contribute to storm victims in the wake of the storm.

It's a storm that has created a whole new set of issues for state lawmakers, who are set to return to Albany next month for the legislative session.

Further complicating matters is that control of the State Senate is still up in the air.

"We have a terrible situation with this storm and dealing with the aftermath of this storm," said Cuomo. "We are going to have real economic challenges in this state. We need a government that works."

Republicans currently hold a 31 to 30 lead in the upper house. Two races remain in dispute.

Cuomo has worked well with a Republican senate, even if he cannot always get what he wants.

"Now, you can say 'well, I'd rather have the Democrats win, I'd rather have the Republicans win,'" Cuomo said. "But we had an election and people voted. Let's see what the results of the election was. Let's see who people voted for."

The four members of the Independent Democratic Conference have still not decided who to caucus with. Their votes as a bloc could swing control to either party. IDC head Jeff Klein declined to comment Tuesday.

Democrats say they are confident that when the 4,000 ballots in Ulster County are counted in Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk's race, she will be declared the winner since she won Ulster 2 to 1. They remain ahead in the other disputed race.

The votes should be counted in the two outstanding races by the end of next week. Depending on the outcome, either could end up in court, which could drag the outcome into next year. The senate is set to convene on January 9.

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