New Yorkers took ethics reform into their own hands on Election Day, when voters overwhelmingly supported a proposal to strip pensions from corrupt politicians. This amends the constitution, which had guaranteed public officials their full pension checks – regardless of whether they were convicted of a crime related to their office.
The vote should come as no surprise, as New Yorkers have suffered through countless corrupt lawmakers dominating headlines for years, and at their expense.
Proposal 2 on the statewide ballot asked Empire State residents whether they believe public officials should be stripped of their pensions if convicted of a felony related to their duties. The Buffalo News reports that New Yorkers voted “by a margin of more than two to one” in favor of the proposal.
The language of the measure would allow a judge to decide if pensions should be reduced or revoked entirely if the politician in question is found guilty of a crime relating to his or her job.
The measure could be stronger, and of course it only applies to crimes committed after January 1, 2018. That means some of the most corrupt public officials like former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos can still retire on the taxpayers’ dime.
The Journal News reports that at least 12 other former state lawmakers convicted of a felony collect a state pension.
This is an important step in the right direction. Having taxpayers pay for pensions of public officials who ripped them off and committed crimes was an absolute disgrace.