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What you need to know for 01/19/2017

Editorial: Ethics reform nothing to laugh at

Editorial: Ethics reform nothing to laugh at

Some of Astronio's ethics reform proposals have merit

Gov. Andrew Cuomo got a good chuckle Monday out of the 10-point ethics reform plan proposed by his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino.

Maybe it's because the governor's latest poll numbers have him 36 points ahead of Astorino in the upcoming governor's race, so he can afford to be mocking. Or maybe it's funny because the governor knows the package has a snowball's chance in you-know-where of passage in a legislative body that has set itself up to protect its own interests.

But maybe, instead of laughing at Astorino's proposals, the governor should be acting on some of them.

Among the 10 items in the candidate's ethics package are: imposing eight-year term limits for legislators and elected statewide officials in order to discourage corruption based on long-term tenures in office; banning legislators convicted of public corruption from collecting their state pensions; prohibiting lawmakers from spending campaign money on personal matters; posting more information about the government on a single statewide database to make government more transparent; making legislators provide receipts for daily expenses instead of collecting a flat per-diem payment; banning 'member items' for organizations or businesses affiliated with state officials; requiring elected officials to join SUNY's defined contribution plan instead of the existing pension system as a way to save taxpayers money; and establishing an independent state commission on public ethics to investigate complaints related to official misconduct, including sexual harassment and assault.

These reforms by themselves won't cure Albany of its ethics problems. But at least some of the items on this list have the potential to address the legal and ethical issues that have shamed this state due to the actions of unscrupulous, untouchable lawmakers.

We're glad the governor had a good laugh over the problems this list is designed to address. And we're sure the three men in a room spit yogurt out their noses over it.

But ethics violations aren't funny. And neither are public officials who laugh over potential solutions.

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