ALBANY – With scandals continuing to plague the state Capitol, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday rolled out a series of ethics reforms that are similar to previous proposals, but which have so far failed to get approved by the state legislature.
“We are limited by our public support, and if that legislature and if our executive wants to really do all they can, we need to improve the public trust,” Cuomo said during the final of his six regional State of the State addresses in Albany.
The state Legislature last year grappled with the convictions on corruption charges of the former leaders of the Senate and Assembly and in September, Cuomo’s own office was rocked by scandal. His former top aide Joseph Percoco and economic development czar Alain Kaloyeros, then president of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, were among nine people charged with alleged kickbacks and bid rigging involving upstate projects.
Last month, Cuomo sought to get the Legislature to agree to a package of ethics reforms as part of a deal for their first pay raise since 1999. But the deal fell apart, and now Cuomo is trying yet again to get lawmakers to approve his sixth attempt at ethics reform.
Cuomo’s 10-point proposal released on Wednesday is largely the same ideas he put forth last month: limiting lawmakers’ outside income; imposing term limits; and eliminating a loophole that lets companies open LLCs to skirt campaign-contribution limits. He also again proposed a system of public financing for elections and bolstering the state’s Freedom of Information Law by requiring the Legislature to comply. For the executive branch, he would install greater oversight of the state’s contracting process, including at the state’s public colleges.
Some of the measure have been backed by lawmakers, but Republicans who control the Senate have largely opposed limits on their outside income — which is the key issue that led to the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.
It remains to be seen how much of the new proposal will be accepted during this current legislative session.