NY voters to decide on pensions for crooked public officials

Jan 31, 2017

New York voters will decide this fall whether to allow a judge to reduce the pension of public officials convicted of corruption.

On Monday, the state legislature approved a constitutional amendment that would allow a judge to strip various state and local officials of their pension if they've been convicted of a felony related to their job.

“Given the magnitude of the corruption at the state capitol, this feels like the lowest possible hanging fruit 


for them to act on,” said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, “So, it doesn’t surprise me that they would do something that they believe has widespread public support.”

Those in favor of the measure said officials who violate the public trust don’t deserve to keep their civil service pensions. Though the final vote may seem like a shoo-in, Horner said anything is possible.

“What matters is not what the polling is, but who are the people who actually show up to vote,” he said, “There’ll be other issues on the ballot at that time, there’ll be other elected officials up for office, so there’s always some doubt.”

Lawmakers passed a law in 2011 that allowed judges to revoke or reduce pensions of misbehaving lawmakers, but that law did not apply to sitting lawmakers at the time.

Monday's vote marked the second consecutive year the Legislature has passed the amendment, clearing the way for it to be on the public ballot this November.

New York Public Interest Research Group is a state watchdog organization.