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For IMMEDIATE Release: May 14, 2015

Contact: Timothy Lantz, 518-455-5981

A PREMATURE ETHICS VICTORY LAP


An opinion piece by Assemblyman Dan Stec (NY-Queensbury) for exclusive consideration
by the New York Times
Four million dollars. That number represents how much New Yorkers have paid
toward the pensions of public officials convicted of crimes over the last 15 years.
Fourteen former state lawmakers and other officials who have committed crimes take
$531,000 per year as part of their taxpayer-funded pensions. That number will soon
increase now that disgraced Assemblyman William Scarborough has pled guilty to
corruption charges and can collect an annual $55,200 taxpayer-funded pension.
Some have recently called New York the most corrupt state in the country,
comparing it to a festival. With perks like this, that distinction should come as no
surprise.
Since 2013, I have led the uphill battle to strip pensions from corrupt public
officials through a constitutional amendment. I knew it was the right thing to do, and
some of my colleagues agreed.
As time went on, it seemed as though a day couldnt go by without another
elected official being taken out of the Capitol in handcuffs. My bill started to gain more
attention and more support.
Momentum continued. Republicans and Democrats were coming together to
support this common-sense legislation. I was proud to work across the aisle with
Assemblyman David Buchwald and earn the support of 94 of our colleagues who signed
on in support of the pension forfeiture bill.
The movement finally gained the support of Gov. Cuomo. In February, the
governor emphatically stated, Public officials who are convicted of public corruption
should not have taxpayers pay for their retirement. Assembly Republicans and a
majority of New Yorkers applauded the governor for including this provision in his
budget proposal. It finally seemed as though this long-overdue measure would pass.
Then, in late March, Albanys three men in a room showered us with press
releases saying that a budget deal had been agreed upon, which included the pension
forfeiture bill. Gov. Cuomo then stated, I said I would not sign a Budget without real

ethics reform, and this Budget does just that[by] revoking public pensions for those
who abuse the publics trust.
Perhaps this is a bad case of hitting the send button too soon?
While it overwhelming passed in the state Senate, the state Assembly never
allowed a vote on the pension forfeiture bill, the supposed crown jewel of the reform
package. Assembly leadership decided in the early morning hours of April 1 not to allow
a vote on this allegedly agreed upon bill.
The same bill that 79 percent of upstate New Yorkers support, blocked by New
York City leadership in the middle of the night from a vote.
Only in Albany: where public opinion has never mattered. That is, until we make
noise.
Recent history shows us that when New Yorkers band together in a united chorus,
we can effect change that Albanys career politicians are scared of. I implore New
Yorkers from every corner of our state to call their state Assembly representative and ask
if they believe corrupt politicians should be stripped of their taxpayer-funded pensions.
And, dont just settle for an answer demand that they join the very people that elected
them in supporting passage of this legislation.
Until then, the festival will go on.
Editors Note: Assemblyman Dan Stec represents the 114th Assembly district, which
is comprised of Warren and Essex counties, and parts of Saratoga and Washington
counties. He has appeared on a New York statewide program to discuss his pension
forfeiture legislation in recent months.
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