Budget Now, Ethics Later
From the Morning Memo:
The 2016-17 state budget picture got a lot clearer on Tuesday at least when it came to what policies won’t be negotiated this month: Namely, ethics and campaign finance reform.
Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the top legislative leaders in the Assembly and Senate signaled the debate over approving new ethics and anti-corruption measures will not be had this month.
“Right now, we’re overly concerned about things like funding for education, highways roads and bridges,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. “Ethics will clearly be part of the discussion. But I think it’s prudent we look at that after the budget as opposed to during.”
His comments, made after the conclusion of a joint legislative budget committee hearing on Tuesday, echoed Cuomo earlier in the day, who acknowledged the ethics debate was falling off the negotiating table this month.
“The time for the budget is short. But the time until the end of session is long and I consider this a major priority,” Cuomo told reporters after speaking at a rally for the $15 minimum wage outside of the Capitol. “I don’t think anyone in good faith could leave Albany until we get things done like the pension forfeiture bill which we agreed to last year.”
The Democratic-led Assembly on Tuesday, meanwhile, approved their own ethics legislation outside of their budget resolution, including provisions that cap outside income and end the practice of unlimited campaign donations being funneled through a network of limited liability companies.
Senate Republicans have pointed to their own ethics measures, which include term limits for leadership posts and committee chairs (enshrined in the rules of the Senate and passed by the chamber as a standalone bill) as well a constitutional amendment to strip those convicted of corruption of their public pension.
The fight over pension forfeiture has been a protracted one in Albany after Assembly Democrats declined to take up the passage of a constitutional amendment in last year’s budget debate.
At the time, Democratic lawmakers had raised concerns with the measure being written too broadly. The Assembly later backed an alternative amendment for pension forfeiture.
Speaker Carl Heastie on Tuesday flanked by Flanagan pointed to new disclosure requirements approved by the chamber last year for lawmakers with outside legal clients.
“We’ve done things last year,” Heastie said. “I don’t want people to forget what we did last year in terms of more disclosure.”
Added Flanagan: “I would concur with the speaker. We have made very significant changes in the law. That does’t mean we shouldn’t have ongoing conversations. We are and we will.”
Calls for new reform legislation will likely only grow when both former legislative leaders, ex-Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Speaker Sheldon Silver, are sentenced in their corruption cases following guilty verdicts last year.
Both men are scheduled to be sentenced the same day.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on March 16, 2016 at 7:30 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
Comments are closed.