Monday, January 25, 2010

Building a Better Ethics Bill

Although both houses of the legislature passed that branch’s ethics bill last week, the fate of the legislation is still unknown: the governor has threatened to veto the bill, and Senate Republicans say that their support of an override vote is not a foregone conclusion. This weekend, the New York Times editorialized that the Governor is right to reject the bill, and that he should use this opportunity to push for more sweeping reforms.

Many of the Times’ recommendations mirror our own. We agree on the need for new limits on the use of campaign contributions, broadening income disclosure requirements to include the legislature’s lawyers, establishing an independent body to oversee the legislature, and making elections fairer through public financing and redistricting reform.

The governor is unlikely to convince the legislature to agree to everything in his own ethics bill introduced as a part of the budget last week, but he is right to reject the assertion that New York can’t do better. We hope the Governor can use his veto threat to get more concessions out of the legislature and maybe even ensure a more open and transparent finish to this process, in which experts and the public are given the opportunity to weigh in on the particulars of the current bill and the reforms that New York needs.

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