New York Legislators React to Governor Cuomo's Reform Proposals
Towards the end of his State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about ethics reform. This, following a year when both leaders in the legislature were indicted, convicted and replaced. Time Warner Cable News' Geoff Redick spoke with legislators about the governor's slate of ethical reform proposals, and how some believe he's not going far enough.
At last year's State of the State, Governor Andrew Cuomo promised a big year for New York.
"Dean Skelos, here's to a good year," he said.
Ethically speaking: It was not. Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos were both arrested, tried and convicted for corruption. And this year, two new leaders took the stage for the State of the State, as the governor proposed reforms, trying to ensure it would not happen again.
"Today, legislators work at law firms or businesses that pose real or potential conflicts," he said. "I propose we adopt the Congressional system of limiting outside income for legislators."
The governor also proposed public campaign financing, changing the state's lobbying laws, and stripping convicted lawmakers of their pensions. Fellow Democrats, in general, were receptive.
"These are all things that most of us already support," said Assemblyman Phil Steck (D).
"These proposals are a good first step," said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D). "Limiting outside income is something we can do right now."
"I've been a sponsor of the pension forfeiture bill since I began in the Assembly," said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D). "I fully expect we will pass that bill."
Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald, says reforms must go one step further.
"Maybe the comptroller should be auditing elected officials on how their actions are impacting the public's money. That needs to be closely examined," McDonald said.
Republicans in the legislature believe the governor missed an opportunity for ethical change.
"The largest asset Skelos and Silver had to game the system was unbridled power," said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco. "And he didn't talk about how we're going to take some of that power, and have rank-and-file members stand up and take it back for our constituents."
"We can talk about term limits, we can talk about limits on leadership," said Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R).
"Let's have term limits," suggested Senator George Amedore (R). "Term limits will go a long way and bring about equality as well in the legislature."
At least at this point, it does not appear the governor has directly tied ethics reform to any sort of incentive or consequence — in that case, it would essentially be on the legislature's own merits to pass a bill.