Contact: Mike Fraser, office: (518) 455-3751/cell: (518) 859-8518
Earlier this week, the governor indicated he doesn't believe the Legislature has the "political will" to pass ethics reform. That assumption is simply untrue, as members of the Legislature and the public have repeatedly called for greater protections against corruption. Major trust issues between New Yorkers and the elected representatives controlling their tax dollars continue to hamper our work, and without stricter reforms the integrity of the state's entire policy-making process is at risk.
RECENT OPTICS NOT PROMISING FOR REFORM
Even before the corruption convictions of both legislative majority leaders in 2015, state government's integrity was severely diminished in the eyes of the public. The perception of impropriety is undeniable, and many of our constituents simply do not have confidence in their government. Albany has done virtually nothing to correct the problem, and recent rhetoric and optics indicate that's not likely to change soon.
Former-aide to the governor Joseph Percoco, former SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros and other officials indicted last year all have an upcoming corruption trial in October. Even more recently, many have questioned the appropriateness of the governor's promoting a top aide with deep family ties to powerful lobbyists to the highest-ranking position in his administration.
All of these items, added to a general lack of transparency from the executive and questions surrounding major economic development initiatives like the Buffalo Billion, have crippled state government. To simply write off ethics reforms at this point in the legislative session is irresponsible. Much more can and must be done.
ASSEMBLY MINORITY WILL CONTINUE TO FIGHT FOR CHANGE
The Assembly Minority Conference has fought for reforms to change Albany's status quo and reform a system that enables corruption. As we head into the final months of the 2017 session calendar, it is my hope the governor does not continue to dismiss the need for stronger ethics laws. Among some of the other reforms we have actively pursued are:
- term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs;
- creating an independent ethics panel to replace the Joint Commission on Public Ethics;
- prohibiting conflicts of interest in state appropriations; and
- greater, independent oversight and review of New York's economic development programs and discretionary spending.
The budget is behind us, but on ethics reform it's clear that we are a long way from done. Until we truly restore the trust between New Yorkers and their elected officials, we will be limited in what can be accomplished for the residents of our great state.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.