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Originally Published: January 21, 2015

Supports legislative and executive pay commission and urges deliberative review of police accountability reforms

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2015 State of the State Address provided some welcome proposals on government reform, including the creation of a Legislative/Executive Pay Commission, as well as important markers for potential state government action on police accountability.

The Governor’s 7-point justice plan outlined in today’s address presented some new approaches in New York, many of which centered on police accountability and judicial system transparency.  We commend the Governor for seeking to address these issues, and look forward to reviewing in further detail recommendations such as the creation of an Independent Monitor, transparency of ethnic and racial data related to police actions, and allowing District Attorneys to release a Grand Jury Report or Letter of Fact for certain cases.

Citizens Union plans to review the 7-point plan as it considers policy recommendations related to public oversight of police misconduct, and urges our state leaders to move forward on this issue openly and deliberatively, with ample opportunities for public input.

Citizens Union has long called for the creation of a State Quadrennial Commission on Legislative and Executive Pay to bring a professional and a political approach to determining public officials compensation and is pleased that Governor Cuomo’s proposal includes many important provisions, including:

  • prospective application of pay increases on a four-year cycle;
  • representation from both the legislative and executive branches;
  • examination of outside income, as well as consideration of a cap on outside earnings and restrictions on representing individuals or companies that conduct business with the state; and
  • examination of per diems and expense reimbursements.

Citizens Union believes the public interest is best served by attracting talented New Yorkers to run for state office.  Ensuring that compensation for our elected officials’ keeps pace with inflation and pay increases in other sectors is one factor in attracting and retaining competent and effective individuals as state officials.

We look forward to working with the Governor and State Legislature during the budget process to ensure that the proposal maximizes the independence and effectiveness of the commission, building off of models in place for state judges and in New York City for elected officials.  Specifically, Citizens Union supports ensuring that legislators, legislative staff, lobbyists and state officials do not serve on the commission.

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