The State Budget is complete and now comes the hard work: cleaning up Albany.
Last November, a majority of legislators from both sides of the aisle and in both houses made a promise to change how business is done and raise the ethical bar for public officials in New York through ethics reform and independent redistricting.
Keeping Our Promise
Senate Democrats, Governor Cuomo and the Assembly are in agreement – meaningful, effective and lasting ethics reform must:
- Require the full disclosure of outside sources of income, including for legislators who are practicing lawyers (S.382/Rivera).
- Increase transparency and restrictions on the personal use of campaign funds to ensure contributions are used only for elections, not personal use (S.3053/Krueger).
- Strengthen oversight and enforcement for all public officials by giving the Public Integrity Commission the power to investigate the legislature and refer any findings to District Attorneys or the Legislative Ethics Commission for possible action.
Senate Republicans have already reneged on their promise to give New Yorkers independent redistricting; now they appear to be stalling progress on ethics reform. It’s frustrating, but anyone who has watched Albany over the years isn’t surprised. I ran for the Senate last fall on the promise to clean up state government, and that promise will be kept.
Senate Republicans: Do As I Say, Not As I Do
In January of 2009, Senate Republicans killed the most significant ethics reforms in more than a generation. That package was not enough, but it was a good first step. After pressure mounted from the public and good government groups, they relented and joined Assembly and Senate Democrats to pass the plan, only to turn their back on it again two weeks later. They claimed their support changed because the proposal did not go far enough.
Well, now is their chance. Senator Dean Skelos is partner in a law firm with lobbying business before the state. This is his opportunity to keep his promise to voters and pass an ethics reform package which requires full disclosure, strips lawmakers from both sides of the aisle convicted of public corruption of their pensions, and ensures that the Legislature – after decades of working in the shadows – will finally be held accountable to the public.