Assemblymember Wallace Announces That Her Bill to Ban ‘Golden Parachute’ Severance Packages at Public Authorities Has Passed the Assembly

May 22, 2018

Early March, in response to a “golden parachute” severance package negotiated at the Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) with its executive director, Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace (D-Lancaster) introduced the “Severance Pay Limitation Act” to put a limit on these types of severance packages at authorities across New York State.

Today, Wallace announced that the bill, A.10076, has passed the Assembly. The bill, which addresses an abhorrent misuse of public funds, awaits a Senate sponsor.

“Earlier this year, Erie County Water Authority ratepayers were forced to sit idly by as their water service provider negotiated an egregious severance package, known as a ‘golden parachute,’ with an at-will political appointee,” said Wallace. “As a ratepayer myself, I was offended by this news. To prevent such outrageous abuses in the future, I introduced the ‘Severance Pay Limitation Act’ to put a limit on severance packages for at-will appointees at authorities across New York State, and I am delighted that my colleagues in the Assembly voted today to approve this legislation.”

The contract for the ECWA executive director that warranted this legislation guarantees a severance package estimated between $300,000 and $400,000 if the individual is let go by the Authority. This occurred less than two months after a rate hike for all ECWA customers took effect.

“At a time when rates are going up, Water Authority customers expect that those increased rates will go toward infrastructure and water quality improvements,” said Wallace. “Instead, they’re going toward an appointee’s severance package. That is wrong, and it represents government at its worst.”

The Severance Pay Limitation Act would make amendments to the public authorities law by defining at-will appointees, limiting the severance package allowable for at-will appointees to no more than three months’ pay, and prohibit severance payments from being considered in calculating retirement benefits.

Additionally, Wallace announced that a second bill she sponsored also passed the Assembly today. That legislation extends the public comment period for proposed rule changes by an executive agency from 30 to 45 days, ensuring increased transparency in government and allowing more New Yorkers to have the chance to be heard on proposed regulations (A.9643). This legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) (S.6196).

“When a government agency considers revising a program or statute, it can affect millions of New Yorkers,” said Wallace. “My bill makes sure that all stakeholders, taxpayers, business owners, activists and advocacy groups have more time to weigh in before a decision is made.”