ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo doesn’t plan to sign a new budget unless lawmakers agree to a major ethics overhaul.
On Monday the governor held a news conference in Albany to discuss his plan for ethics reform, in the wake of a corruption scandal against former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, with more investigations believed to be underway by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The governor said that a single corruption case is one too many, and the Silver case makes it imperative for lawmakers to understand the time is now to restore trust in government.
Cuomo said the Legislature has to decide whether to become full-time or put stringent checks and balances on outside income, adding that he will not sign a budget that does not include his ethics plan.
The governor’s plan includes:
- Full disclosure of outside income
- Forfeiture of pension if convicted of a crime
- Campaign finance reform
- Outlawing campaign funds for personal expenses
- Reform of per diem expenses
On Monday, Silver resigned as assembly speaker, although he will continue to serve in the assembly for his home district in Manhattan. His likely replacement will be Democratic Assemblyman Carl Heastie of the Bronx, who also serves as the Democratic Party Chairman for Bronx County. Heastie says he will give up that post and will also forgo outside income while serving as speaker. Heastie has also said that he wants to tour upstate New York in order to get a better understanding of upstate needs as he prepares the Assembly’s agenda for this year and future years.