With seven days left in the New York State legislative session, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled his three-pronged solution for the major ills in the New York political system.
The first part of the reform package is aimed at fighting corruption and bribery, and the second part is aimed at reforming the outdated election system. The third part is aimed the reducing the influence of large donors on the elections.
One part of the legislative package includes the Public Trust Act, a series of reforms to address corruption by public officials. The other two parts of the package address outdated voting systems and the influence of large donors on elections.
The Public Trust Act would establish a new class of public corruption crimes and enhance the prosecutors’ ability to combat corruption.
The package also includes a series of voting reforms, including a plan to allow 16-17 year olds to pre-register for elections. Several campaign finance reforms were also proposed including an emphasis on transparency, and reducing the contribution limits.
“To restore the trust of the people in state government, we must tackle corruption head-on and ensure our District Attorneys have the tools they need to prosecute those that defraud the public and bring disgrace to the halls of governments,” Governor Cuomo stated in a press release.
“New York’s electoral process, campaign finance system, and our laws to prevent corruption are outdated, ineffective, and in serious need of sweeping reform,” he added. “This comprehensive package of reforms will strengthen New York’s democracy and is a major step toward restoring the public’s trust and confidence in our government.”
Public Trust Act
Governor Cuomo has proposed a Public Trust Act, a series of reforms aimed at fighting corruption and bribery. He says he is aiming at anti-corruption laws in New York because they are obsolete and less effective than the federal statutes. The Public Trust Act is meant to fight corruption and restore the public’s trust in government. The proposed reforms would address legislative flaws that prevent district attorneys from prosecuting bribery and impose new penalties for misuse of taxpayer money.
The legislation also characterizes New York’s current election laws being outdated and inefficient and limiting to democracy. The reforms proposed in the package intend to bring New York voters back into government and strengthen the democratic process. Proposed legislation would expand the voter registration period to allow more voters to participate in elections, simplify the voting ballots, and establish an independent enforcement unit at the Board of Elections to allow for effective investigations of election law violations, among others.
Campaign Finance Reform
New York ranks among the lowest among all states in terms of campaign finance restrictions, the press release states. The legislation proposed by the governor aims to reduce the influence of large donors on elections while providing comprehensive reform to the state’s campaign finance system. The reforms would reduce maximum contributions from individual donors while increasing public financing for political campaigns.