New York Lawmakers Back Off Pension Forfeiture Proposal

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A measure that would strip pensions from corrupt public officials has stalled in the New York legislature this week.

State lawmakers this month passed a series of ethics reforms, but the pension forfeiture component was left out of the larger package.

Now, it seems unlikely the measure gets passed at all.

The point of contention from unions is that the measure, if it became law, could be used against any public employee – not just lawmakers.

From the New York Times:

One measure — to strip pensions from corrupt public officials — has stalled in the New York Assembly because of objections from unions representing public employees.

What initially appeared to be a trivial delay — amending the Constitution is inevitably a lengthy process — now appears more serious. Assembly Democrats, responding to opposition from unions, have raised concerns about whose pensions could be at risk.

[…]

The proposed constitutional amendment also uses the term “public official.” Specifically, it says that a public official “who is convicted of a felony related to public office shall be deemed to have willfully breached such contractual relationship.”

That language has unions worried.

“The concern is that you’re going in with a constitutional change diminishing a benefit retroactively and establishing a precedent in that respect,” said Stephen Madarasz, a spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents state and local government workers.

Passing the measure was always going to be tough, because it requires a constitutional amendment. That means the measure has to be approved by two separate legislative sessions, as well as by voters.

 

Photo by Tim (Timothy) Pearce via Flickr CC License

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