Weekly Feature

2018-06-13 / Business

Senate passes Ranzenhofer bills as part of ethics reforms package

Ranzenhofer Ranzenhofer The New York State Senate has approved two new bills introduced by Sen. Michael H. Ranzenhofer as part of the most sweeping package of good government reforms proposed in years.

“From bid-rigging scandals to corruption trials, hard-working New Yorkers are fed up with the lack of ethics in state government, and the time is now for real reforms. I am pleased that these reforms are starting to advance through the Legislature,” said Ranzenhofer.

The first bill (S8409) limits political donations from parties applying for grants, licenses, or doing business with public entities to the public officials or candidates who would approve such grants, licenses, or contracts.

The second (S8404) prohibits appointees who are appointed by the executive to make political contributions to the executive or his or her political campaign. The appointees would be prohibited from making political contributions within a year of appointment, during their term, and for a year after the term ends. It also prohibits the appointee from soliciting contributions on behalf of the executive or the executive's campaign committee. This prohibition also applies to members in the appointee's household.

“Allowing these questionable practices to continue will only foster distrust and skepticism of the process in state government,” said Ranzenhofer

The comprehensive legislative package incorporated additional measures to boost accountability, transparency, and prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Bills passed by the Senate include:

Developing a searchable subsidy database (S6613B) — requires the creation of a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would help New Yorkers and policy makers monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state's economy and create jobs. The database would include the name and location of the participant; the time span of received economic development benefits; the type of benefit received; the total number of employees at all sites of a project; the number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project; the amount of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, cancelled or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant.

Creating the New York State Procurement Integrity Act (S3984A) — restores the state comptroller's independent oversight of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts; expands the comptroller's oversight of the procurement process to include contracts in excess of $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation; and prohibits state contracting through state-affiliated not-for-profit entities unless explicitly authorized in law.

Creating an Independent Budget Office — At least 23 other states including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut and Vermont have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. This would create the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee.

Reforming START-UP NY (S5985A) — restores and bolsters reporting requirements for START-UP NY by requiring the preparation of an annual report which would be provided to the governor and the Legislature. The report would include, but is not limited to, the number of business applicants, number of businesses approved, benefits distributed and received, and the number of net new jobs created per business, including cumulative data that reflects the amount previously recorded and adjusted for net new jobs that have been lost.

The bills have been sent to the Assembly.

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