Crooked NY Lawmakers Have Little To Fear From New Laws

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Despite promises to clean up Albany, good government groups say the budget deal that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders hammered out behind closed doors will do little to stop the rampant corruption that has plagued the state in recent years.

Among the changes are new criminal laws that will increase prison time for politicians convicted of taking bribes, and a new disclosure requirement that legislators report when lobbyists steer clients to the lawmakers’ private businesses.

But the package fell short of what a number of reformers and good government groups say is necessary: overhauling the state’s ethics watchdog and introducing a system of public financing for state political campaigns.

New York City already has a public financing system and it’s widely credited with cutting down the influence of wealthy individuals and groups on elections.

Cuomo publicly backed such a system, but when the budget bills were unveiled over the weekend, they contained no widespread reform.

Instead the agreement called for a pilot project – a test of public financing for a single race: the 2014 state comptroller’s race.

Good government groups blasted the plan saying it was designed to fail.