During Governor Spitzer’s State of the State address he highlighted several changes to state government that echoed the change that voters called for. He focused on ethics reform, and changing the status quo in state government. He outlined his plan to enact structural reforms to transform our government from one that is designed to resist change to one that is designed to embrace it.
Under the leadership of Governor Spitzer I am confident we will make New York State government more efficient, effective and responsive to the needs of working families in Onondaga County.
Change starts with restoring taxpayers’ faith in their government and elected officials. We need strong ethics reforms against special interests that benefit a few, not all New Yorkers, which had become the status quo under the previous administration. Together with Spitzer, my colleges in the Assembly and I are ready to tackle these challenges and begin to turn Central New York around.
Changing the way campaigns are financed
In his State of the State address, Governor Spitzer expressed a desire to reform campaign financing. The Assembly has been a strong proponent of that issue, passing legislation last year that I sponsored stemming the influence of special interest money on elections (A.4-B). The bill provides public matching funds to candidates for statewide office, state Legislature or delegates to a constitutional convention who limit contributions and campaign spending. Sadly, that bill did not pass in the Senate.
We finally have a partner in Governor Spitzer who is committed to leveling the playing field so that every New Yorker has a legitimate opportunity to run for office.
Banning lobbyist gifts to legislators
Last summer the Assembly passed legislation to help ensure a higher ethical standard for state government. I supported this legislation banning most gifts from lobbyists to legislators, their staff and other government employees. The measure also prohibits paid speeches for public officials, requires ethics training, strengthens the “revolving door” ban for legislative employees and directs the State Board of Elections to clarify the prohibition on the personal use of campaign funds (A.11900-B of 2006). Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Senate and was not signed by the last governor.
I applaud Spitzer’s first executive orders establishing ethical guidelines which demonstrate his commitment to change. I look forward to working with Spitzer towards making state government work for the people rather than the other way around. We will work towards making on-time budgets the norm and not the exception, and make sure government is effective, transparent and fiscally responsible.
This year’s legislative session will be an important one in reforming state government. Governor Spitzer laid out a bold plan to make Albany work better, and I’m ready to work with him toward those goals.