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FEATURE STORY: Still no ethics reform in state budget

Mar 30, 2016 12:02 am
Casey Seiler reports in Capitol Confidential that days before the April 1 budget deadline, Albany good government groups on March 28 criticized the lack of ethics reform in the budget process, and the lack of transparency in budget negotiations.

• Barbara Bartoletti of the state League of Women Voters complained about the closed-door budget process, and meetings “done off-campus” at venues such as the Executive Mansion. “The public has no idea what’s going on,” said Bartoletti.

• After leaders of both legislative houses, from both parties, were indicted on corruption charges last year, legislative leaders said last week that no ethics measures would be included in this year's budget. Governor Cuomo has been silent on ethics reform since first revealing his proposed budget. “We’re sort of shocked that after incredible scandals that have rocked the state capitol, including the conviction of the top legislative leaders, there’s been basically nothing happening here in Albany,” Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group said. “The governor proposed legislation, but was not able or not interested in galvanizing the public in terms of support for his measures, and as a result the budget process is going forward but without ethics in it.”

• Dick Dadey of Citizens Union complained that legislative leaders still can use of lump-sum expenditures that, “creates a huge risk for corruption.”

Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman John Kelly said in an email, “Meetings occur in a variety of locations including the Capitol, at the executive mansion, in New York City, and on the phone.?” Cuomo, though, has not said much at all about ethics reform publicly, as he privately negotiates the budget with Republican leaders of the Senate and Democrats from the Assembly. “We are three and a half months out from when Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos were convicted of corruption, and not one — not one — piece of ethics reform legislation has passed and been enacted,” he said. “And it looks like we’re not going to see it here in this budget, even though we were promised by this governor with a long list of ethics reforms that he wanted to see happen.” Read the full story in Capitol Confidential, an Albany Times-Union blog.

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