Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Heastie reach agreement on ethics reform

ALBANY, N.Y. – Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie have come to an agreement on ethics reform just two weeks before the budget is due.

Wednesday, the State Assembly took the first step towards developing a budget as the governor and Assembly Speaker Heastie announced an agreement.

cuomo, heastie ethics reform
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced an agreement on ethics reform on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (NEWS10)

“It actually hurts the government and hurts those of us that are here for the right reasons, which is the overwhelming majority, who do exactly the right thing but get painted with this broad brush of ‘you’re in Albany, and if you’re in government, there’s a level of corruption,’” Cuomo said.

The governor says there will be more public disclosure than in the past, though there will be restrictions on whom officials can and cannot do outside business with. Heastie says the assembly majority’s democratic conference is on board with the idea.

The deal is a five-point plan. The first includes new disclosure requirements meaning all elected officials will have to report outside income, and they can’t receive compensation in connection with a pending bill.

Second is pension forfeiture. It would apply to any public officials convicted of corruption.

Thirdly is per diem reform. Legislators currently receive a stipend for coming to Albany. Now there would be an electronic system to verify that they arrived to the city.

Fourth, state lawmakers wouldn’t be allowed to use campaign funds for personal expenses.

The final point is campaign finance disclosure.

“I am confident that the ethics agreement represents the responsibility of the people of this great state, and that it will restore the people’s house into the place of principle and integrity it was always meant to be,” Heastie said.

Senate republicans were noticeably absent from the table. The governor will need their support for the deal to become law.

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