BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Voters heading to the booth during the general election will find three propositions on the back of the ballots – one of which, proposition 2, would allow a judge to revoke or reduce a pension for a former official if they’re convicted of a felony related to his or her duties.
“It’s on the ballot as a result of a powerful groundswell of anger from the public,” said Peter Galie, a political scientist. “It’s part of a much larger issue and that’s corruption.”
Over the last 15 years, around 30 New York State officials have been convicted of serious crimes. Despite being behind bars, they’re still receiving significant pensions. For example, ex-Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos is receiving around $96,000 a year while he’s serving a 5 year sentence for corruption. And as former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is in prison for 12 years after being convicted of several crimes including fraud and extortion, he’s pocketing more than $79,000 annually.
“The number of people convicted; the amount of money it requires to get in the game; the insularity and the lack of accountability on the part of the legislature — all of these have conspired in a way to create a distrust in the government.”
Thousands of people from around the state pushed for the proposition to be added to the ballot. If passed, judges could decide to revoke or reduce the pension based on different criteria ranging from the hardship it’ll be for the person’s family, proportionality of the offense, and the impact the crime has on the state.
“We don’t know yet the impact yet. It really depends on how the judges operate. It could be seen as a step to correcting [the corruption] but whether that will happen is, in my opinion, doubtful.”