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Senate Democrats Pressing Republicans To Keep Reform Promise

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch
Tim Roske, AP Photo

Albany, NY (WIBX) – Democrats are calling on Republicans to keep their pledge to clean up Albany by passing comprehensive reform legislation.

At the start of every 2 year session, there’s a vote on the rules that will govern the senate for the next two years. However, that vote, which was supposed to occur this past week was delayed by Republicans who instead moved to temporarily extent the current rules for another two weeks. Austin Shafran, Press Secretary for the NYS Senate Democratic Conference said before the election, 53 of 62 members of the incoming Senate signed former Mayor Ed Koch’s New York Uprising Heroes Reform Pledge that calls for Redistricting, Ethics and Budget Reform.

He said, “Our feeling is the time has come for pledges made to become promises kept. That’s why on the first day of the new session–the first day of the new session, we announced our intention to urge the Republican majority to immediately adopt the measures included in the reform pledge.” Shafran said postponing a vote on the non-partisan measure only delays the legislative agenda and hampers the upcoming budget process.

“Our position is, do it today–there’s no reason to wait. The legislative session is underway, the budget process is about to begin, there’s no reason not to adopt fair and honest rules to govern the Senate, and not push this important conversation into the budget process where it will be stifled,” Shafran said.

The reform pledge calls for the creation of an independent redistricting commission so legislatures can no longer draw their own districts, an independent oversight commission to improve ethics guidelines, and to improve the budgeting process by setting strict spending limits.

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Summary of the Government Reform Package

Redistricting:

Independent Apportionment Commission (Gianaris):

· Establishes an independent commission to propose and draw district boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

· The district lines would be drawn to be compact, equal in population and contiguous; not abridge or deny minority voting rights; and align with local boundaries and community character to ensure the even-handed and non-partisan drawing of lines.

· Commission members could not currently hold or, in the past two years, have held elective or public office, been a lobbyist, been in a position within a political party, or be a relative or spouse of an elected or public official.

Ethics:

Unitary Ethics Commission (Squadron)

· Creates an independent and unitary Commission on Governmental Ethics, which would oversee both the legislative and executive branches.

· The Commission would consist of nine members, three of whom are chosen by the governor and one each chosen upon the recommendation of the comptroller, attorney general, senate majority leader, senate minority leader, assembly speaker and assembly minority leader.

· Members of the Commission are not allowed to be state or federal lobbyists or employed by political consulting firms, or the recipient of a state contract. The executive director would be chosen jointly by the Chair and Vice-Chair to serve a five-year term and not more than two consecutive terms.

Comprehensive Financial Disclosure (Rivera):

· Increases disclosure requirements on public officials by requiring that attorneys disclose their clients (unless it would violate a privilege or materially harm the client), creating new categories of value for reporting income, and requiring legislators to report business dealings with lobbyists.

Prohibit Contributions from those Doing Business with the State (Addabbo):

· Prohibits corporations and other entities seeking or renewing government contracts from making direct and indirect political contributions, which could influence their ability to receive public funds for such a contract or renewal.

Budget:

Adoption of GAAP budgeting (Krueger):

· Removes the ability for fiscal manipulation by requiring both the Executive Budget proposal and Enacted Budget to be balanced according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, which will fundamentally realign recurring spending with recurring revenue.

Legislative Budget Office (Krueger):

· Creates a non-partisan Legislative Budget Office modeled after the Congressional Budget Office, to remove the politics from revenue forecasting while ensuring funds are not hidden in “off-budget” public authorities.

Commission to study performance based budgeting (Krueger):

· Creates a 15-member Empire State Performance Commission tasked with designing a performance based management and budgeting blueprint to streamline government spending and end waste and fraud within programs and services.

53 Sitting Senators Who Have Signed ‘Heroes of Reform’ Pledge

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle (R-1)

Senator John J. Flanagan (R-2)

Senator Lee Zeldin (R-3)

Senator Owen H. Johnson (R-4)

Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-5)

Senator Kemp Hannon (R-6)

Senator Jack Martins (R-7)

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo (R-8)

Senator Dean G. Skelos (R-9)

Senator Shirley L. Huntley (D-10)

Senator Tony Avella (D-11)

Senator Michael Gianaris (D-12)

Senator Jose R. Peralta (D-13)

Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D-15)

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (D-16)

Senator John L. Sampson (D-19)

Senator Eric L. Adams (D-20)

Senator Martin J. Golden (R-22)

Senator Diane J. Savino (D-23)

Senator Andrew J. Lanza (R-24)

Senator Daniel L. Squadron (D-25)

Senator Liz Krueger (D-26)

Senator Jose M. Serrano (D-28)

Senator Thomas K. Duane (D-29)

Senator Bill Perkins (D-30)

Senator Adriano Espaillat (D-31)

Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-33)

Senator Jeffrey D. Klein (D-34)

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-35)

Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-37)

Senator David Carlucci (D-38)

Senator William J. Larkin (R-39)

Senator Gregory R. Ball (R-40)

Senator Stephen M. Saland (R-41)

Senator John J. Bonacic (R-42)

Senator Roy J. McDonald (R-43)

Senator Hugh T. Farley (R-44)

Senator Elizabeth O’Conner Little (R-45)

Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R-47)

Senator Patty Ritchie (R-48)

Senator David J. Valesky (D-49)

Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-50)

Senator James L. Seward (R-51)

Senator Thomas W. Libous (R-52)

Senator Tom O’Mara (R-53)

Senator Michael F. Nozzolio (R-54)

Senator James S. Alesi (R-55)

Senator Joseph E. Robach (R-56)

Senator Catharine M. Young (R-57)

Senator Timothy Kennedy (D-58)

Senator Patrick M. Gallivan (R-59)

Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer (R-61)

Senator George D. Maziarz (R-62)

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