From the Morning Memo:

Ethics reform is pretty much THE hot topic at the Capitol these days, thanks to Cuomo’s desire to extricate himself from the Moreland Commission mess and the Sheldon Silver corruption scandal.

But while the governor is threatening to hold up the entire budget in order to see his reform proposals passed by the state Legislature, he has recommended no additional funding for the three existing ethics enforcement entities currently responsible for policing the three branches of government: JCOPE, the state inspector general and the state Commission on Judicial Conduct.

A lot of ink has been spilled about JCOPE and its ineffectiveness. But even though good government groups have been calling for changes to its structure (the Legislature is more or less able to block any investigation out might want to launch), the governor has failed to propose any reforms.

As for the Commission on Judicial Conduct, this is the fifth year in a row the executive has recommended zero increases for its budget of $5.4 million, despite holding other state agencies to a 2 percent spending increase, according to commission administrator and counsel Robert Tembeckjian.

The commission is a constitutionally created independent agency of state government that enforces judicial ethics by investigating and disciplining judges for misconduct. Its work has resulted in 786 public disciplines of judges in 36 years – an average of 22 a year – including 168 removals and 51 stipulated resignations.

In testimony Tembeckjian will deliver at a joint legislative budget hearing today, he says the commission has learned to do more with less, cutting staff, giving up formal training and adopting cost-cutting technologies.

“Years of flat budgeting and corresponding cuts in staff and services have diminished our effectiveness,” Tembeckjian will say, according to an advance copy of his testimony provided to CapTon. “Unless the Legislature acts, I will be forced to make even more mission-impeding economies.”

Tembeckjian says he’s seeking from the Legislature an additional $273,300 – a 5 percent increase – “the minimum amount necessary for us to maintain the status quo,” covering a rent increase, mandated 2 percent staff salary bump and also fund step increases to eligible staffers.