Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on Thursday touted successful new ethics laws, including one to strip pensions from corrupt lawmakers, but said Republicans would not support a plan by minority Democrats to bar state legislators from earning outside income.
Flanagan (R-East Northport) told more than 100 business, education and civic leaders at Hofstra University that Senate Republicans cut middle class taxes, increased Long Island school funding and enhanced insurance coverage for heroin and opioid addicts during the recently concluded legislative session.
But he spent much of his speech talking about changes to state ethics laws following the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) on federal corruption charges. Skelos is appealing.
Top lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Andrew M Cuomo struck a deal on a proposed Constitutional amendment — which must be approved by voters — to strip state pensions from lawmakers convicted of corruption.
The deal also strengthens laws prohibiting campaigns from working with independent expenditure committees that can spend unlimited amounts of money to support candidates as long as they do not coordinate with their campaigns.
But Flanagan said the GOP will not back a Democratic plan to prohibit Albany lawmakers from earning most forms of outside income.
“We believe that we should have people of diverse backgrounds,” Flanagan said. “You want a professor; you want a small-business owner. You want someone who has done something other than work in government their entire life.”
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy said Republicans “once again proved that they are the party of the corrupt status quo by blocking real ethics reforms like restricting outside income, closing the LLC loophole and restricting how campaign money can be used.”
Flanagan also described efforts to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour as “contentious.” But he said Republicans were able to strike a compromise that included tax cuts and delayed implementation for Long Island.
The deal calls for the minimum wage to grow to $15 per hour in New York City by the end of 2018, and by 2024 in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.
“I am not going to apologize for what we did,” he said. “I am taking credit for what we did.”