State Policy Agenda

Citizens Union State Policy Agenda - 2015

ETHICS REFORM
  • Increase disclosure, reduce conflicts of interest and limit outside income earned by state legislators.
  • Ensure that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics enforces newly enacted oversight rules, and require more disclosure of decision-making by the Commission.
  • Empower the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute cases involving public corruption. 
  • Amend the state constitution to extend pension forfeiture, subject to due process safeguards, to public officers and elected officials who have been convicted of felonies.
ELECTION REFORM
  • Increase voter participation with early voting, Election Day voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting, instant runoff voting, and pre-registration of 16 - and 17-year olds.
  • Institute electronic voter registration.
  • Redesign and simplify the ballot for 21st century voting. 
  • Eliminate bipartisan duplication at the Board of Elections. 
  • Grant New Yorkers on parole the ability to vote.
  • Reduce signature requirements and simplify the petition process.
  • Reform how vacant seats are filled to eliminate delay and to increase voter choice.
  • Require joint party elections of the governor and lt. governor to ensure effective partnership. 
  • Allow primary winners to decline party nominations, ending use of judicial appointments to lure candidates off the ballot.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
  • Institute a public matching system; lower campaign contribution limits; enact “pay-to-play” restrictions on those who do business with the state. 
  • Ensure effective implementation of the law creating the chief enforcement counsel at the Board of Elections.
  • Ensure enforcement of new statutory requirements for disclosure of independent expenditures.
  • Clarify the definition of coordination between candidates and political committees.
LEGISLATIVE REFORM
  • Reinvigorate the committee system and use conference committees, particularly during the budget process. 
  • Provide greater opportunities for public testimony and improve public disclosure of committee proceedings through the use of webcasting.
  • Establish equitable distribution of funds to legislators for staffing and resources regardless of party affiliation. 
  • Ensure legislative continuity by allowing bills to remain on the calendar between the first and second year.
BUDGET REFORM
  • Require the state to use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
  • Require detailed online reporting of lump-sum appropriations and member items by elected officials.
  • Create a more transparent, user-friendly budget process with ample time for public and legislative review. 
  • Establish an independent nonpartisan budget office.
  • Bar the executive branch from transferring funds between agencies or programs without legislative okay, and limit the governor’s ability to change policy via appropriation bills.
  • End “messages of necessity,” to allow adequate review.
  • Establish a later start date for the fiscal year.
  • Incorporate performance budgeting with benchmarks.
JUDICIAL REFORM
  • Ensure that proposals to increase the retirement age of judges include all of the state’s trial court judges.
  • Simplify the state’s court system by consolidating the nine trial courts into a two-tiered system. 
  • Create a merit appointment system for all state judges. 
STATE GOVERNMENT REFORM
  • Maintain the Port Authority as a bi-state authority while reforming the governance structure with a single chief executive, tighter rules on the board of directors, and extending the open meetings law to the Port Authority.
  • Establish a quadrennial compensation commission to recommend compensation levels for state elected officials.
  • Limit the ability of a mayoral charter revision commission to “bump” other local charter referenda off the ballot.
  • Ensure continued posting of data on the state’s open data portal, and improve transparency of lobbying, campaign finance and budgetary data.
 


See also our historic City Policy Agendas