Clean Contracting, Publicly Financed Elections, Pay-to-Play Restrictions, Ethics/Voting,
Legislative FOIL, MTA and Congestion Pricing
Glad to See Emerging Consensus on Clean Contracting Priorities
We are glad to see the Senate, Assembly and Governor have all supported a Database of Deals to increase transparency of state economic development contracts and restoring the Comptroller’s “pre-audit” power for many state contracts. Reinvent Albany supports including these measures in statute, and will release soon recommendations for reconciling the differences between the Assembly and Senate proposals for the Database of Deals and restoring the Comptroller’s “pre-audit” authority. The Assembly also included an important proposal for ensuring economic development entities are subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the Open Meetings Law (OML), and its members follow state ethics laws including financial disclosure. We call on the Governor and Senate to consider this proposal.
Renewed Call for Public Financed Elections, Action by Legislature
As part of the Fair Elections coalition, we call on the legislative leaders and Governor to follow through and deliver publicly financed elections based on a small donor matching system. The Governor and Legislature have all indicated support for a public matching system, albeit the Assembly and Senate did not include language in their budget bills. They must over the remainder of the month forge a consensus on statutory language with the Governor’s proposal serving as a solid foundation.
Pass Pay-to-Play Controls on State Agency Vendors
We thank the Senate for passing legislation, and including in its one house resolution and budget bill, restricting campaign contributions by vendors when bidding on or lobbying for a contract. Reinvent Albany worked with Assemblymember Buchwald on the legislation passed by the Senate, which strengthens a reform proposed by the Governor in the Executive Budget the last three years. We would like to see this pass in the budget or during the remainder of the regular session.
Act on Other Good Government and Ethics Proposals
The Governor proposed 26 good government reforms in his Executive Budget. Reinvent Albany evaluated each of these, issuing analyses on ethics, voting, and campaign finance measures. The Legislature has indicated a desire to address most of these issues outside of the budget. However, the Governor, Senate and Assembly all support electronic poll books in some form and provided bill language for it, and there is a consensus on online voter registration. The Governor and Senate have additionally indicated support for providing uniform statewide hours for voting during primary elections, prohibiting loans by lobbyists to campaigns, and strengthening financial disclosure for municipal officers, but the Assembly has not made its position clear on these issues. We appreciate the Senate’s proposal-by-proposal response to the Governor’s Good Government and Ethics bill, which the Assembly only partially responded to. Reinvent Albany will issue recommendations soon for reconciling the somewhat differing bills on these proposals.
Missed Opportunity on Legislative FOIL
The Senate and Assembly both opposed applying the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to the legislature, a proposal long supported by Governor Cuomo in the Executive Budget. We supported this proposal even while recognizing the modest impact on the legislature. Unfortunately, the legislature passed on an opportunity to increase its own transparency while also modestly improving FOIL as it applies to state agencies.
Pass Congestion Pricing Now Without Conditions and Exceptions
We continue to support NYC congestion pricing and would like to see an agreement sending funds to MTA with as few conditions and exceptions as possible. We hope that budget negotiations will persuade both the Assembly and Senate that congestion pricing is a vital part of restoring the MTA financially as well as moving buses and traffic faster on better managed streets.
We are glad to see the Governor, Senate and Assembly have recognized the critical issues facing MTA and have begun a robust public discussion on MTA governance. We join transit and environmental advocates in calling on the Legislature and Governor to pass congestion pricing now and leave complex discussions of MTA governance to the regular session, when issues can be properly and publicly vetted and debated. Reinvent Albany will issue an analysis soon of the differing budget proposals on MTA governance and accountability.