Jamming Lawmakers, Cuomo Links Ethics Legislation To Spending (Updated)
In an effort to have the Legislature take it or leave it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday released his 30-day budget amendments that tied ethics reform legislation to spending bills in the budget.
Cuomo is yoking the ethics measures — aimed at forcing lawmakers to disclose more information on their outside income, private business clients as well as overhaul how lawmakers are reimbursed for their travel expenses — to key spending provisions in his $142 billion budget.
For instance, reforming how per diems are doled out would be linked to the state comptroller’s budget. The linkage would go further with the comptroller’s office not paying out per diems unless lawmakers follow disclosure requirements.
“We must prove once again that state government can be trusted, and that means passing tough new ethics laws and creating a system that deters, detects and punishes individuals who seek to abuse and corrupt,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday afternoon. “We must bring sunlight to ethical shadows. New Yorkers deserve nothing less.”
Attaching the ethics measures to budget appropriations is key: Lawmakers can either strike that language out of the budget or add to it, but cannot alter it.
In tying the ethics legislation to the spending in the $142 billion proposal, Cuomo is essence daring lawmakers to vote the ethics reforms up or down.
Cuomo is also potentially testing the limits with which policy matters can be included in appropriations bills, a matter that was first considered in the landmark ruling Pataki v. Silver.
That ruling allowed governor’s significant leeway in budget-making powers, which Gov. David Paterson used to his own advantage in ramming major spending cuts through the “extender” process when the budget was passed its April 1 due date.
But the ruling also left open ended how far a governor could go in tying policy considerations to a budget.
Cuomo’s disclosure legislation would require all public officials to disclose the “nature of each source” of their private compensation that exceeds $1,000. State lawmakers and staff would be prohibited from receiving any compensation in connection with a pending bill or resolution.
Those lawmakers who work as attorneys, real estate agents and other jobs must provide a “description of services” for which they receive their pay as well as the source of compenations.
Those who have clients in which they receive more than $5,000 in compensation must disclose information on that client.
Cuomo is also proposing new disclosure measures for independent expenditures that would include “communications” made within 60 days before a general or special election and 30 days before a primary election in order to clearly identify the client.
Enforcement of the new independent expenditure rules would be handed to the state Board of Elections independent enforcement counsel, who Cuomo appoints.
The ethics push comes after the arrest of former Speaker Sheldon Silver on charges that he masked $3.8 million in bribes and kickbacks as legal referrals.
Silver, who retains his seat in the Legislature, was indicted on Thursday on three charges by a grand jury.
Updated: The 30-day amendments are posted here. Measures designed to require lawmakers to provide receipts for their travel reimbursement and disclose more outside income information are tied to appropriation language. The pension and campaign finance reform legislation are free-standing measures.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on February 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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