Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis joins Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Assembly Minority Conference colleagues at todays press conference.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I-Brooklyn/Staten Island), Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua), and members of the Assembly Minority Conference today called on the Assembly Majority to reconsider its new watered-down, one-house ethics legislation. The latest proposal regarding pension forfeitures for public servants convicted of felonies is vastly different from a previously agreed-upon bill introduced during this years budget negotiations. With the Senate already having passed the agreed-upon bill, the Assembly's move sabotages the reform movement at a time when the public is growing increasingly unhappy with corruption in government.
This is another example of the Majoritys reluctance to get serious about ethics reform. Pension forfeiture is a common-sense measure that punishes wrongdoers and protects taxpayer dollars, Leader Kolb said. This already has passed the Senate and should have been part of the budget vote. By delaying and changing an agreed-upon bill, the Majority has weakened important anti-corruption legislation and virtually guaranteed we will leave Albany without movement on this issue. The latest action from the Assembly Majority insults those who expect accountable government.
It is unconscionable that the Assembly Majority would go back on its agreement to join the Senate and governor in enacting legislation that would strip pensions from those who have been convicted of a felony related to their public duty. The Majority must stop playing political games and pass the agreed-upon bill in the best interest of this institution and the taxpayers we represent. No public official should collect taxpayers' money while they are sitting in jail for betraying the public's trust, said Malliotakis.
Revision of the pension forfeiture bill is the latest action by the Majority to prevent meaningful anti-corruption measures and reforms from advancing in the Assembly Chamber. Despite a legislative session severely disrupted by corruption arrests, and despite touting its own Reform Caucus, this year the Majority Conference has:
- Voted against imposing term limits for legislative leaders;
- Voted against imposing term limits for committee chairs;
- Failed to advance reforms to increase transparency, such as record and televise committee meetings;
- Voted against the Public Officers Accountability Act, the most stringent anti-corruption bill package; and
- Failed to pass legislation to allow each member of the Assembly to bring at least one bill to the floor for a vote every two-year legislative cycle.
An agreement between legislative leaders on a much stronger bill leading up to the budget was removed from consideration in the Assembly at the 11th hour with little explanation. Now, a new bill that limits the scope of potential pension forfeitures to only elected officials and a select number of people who fit the bills narrowed criteria is being pushed by the Assembly Majority. Under the previous agreement, nearly all public servants would have been subject to the law, if they were convicted of a felony relating to their public duty. Further, the new legislation allows for judicial discretion when applying punishment, and the families of those convicted may still collect taxpayer money. This is hardly a disincentive to commit crime.