On November 7 there will be three state proposals on your election day ballot. Grand Street Democrats voted Monday to recommend a “Yes” vote on Proposal 2.
It’s hard to believe, but elected officials convicted of corruption charges get to retire with full benefits in the state of New York.
A 2011 state law allowed for judges to reduce or revoke the public pension of officials convicted of crimes related to their office, but because the state constitution protects public pensions as contracts, only officials elected starting after the law went into effect are subject to its restriction. Ballot proposal 2 would amend the state constitution to give judges the power to punish officials even if they were elected before 2012.
There are still two caveats to this proposal, even if it passes:
First, as with the existing state law, pension forfeiture would not be automatic but rather would be at the discretion of a judge.
Second, this amendment would apply only to crimes committed on or after January 1, 2018. That creates a hard-to-resist window of opportunity between November 8 and December 31 of this year when veteran law makers can go all-out on corruption without worrying about risking their pensions. It also means that a certain neighbor of ours, even if re-tried and re-convicted, will continue to receive $79,222 per year from New York taxpayers for his many years of service.
On November 7, don’t forget to turn your ballot over and vote “Yes” on Proposal 2.