The New York Times: Lawmakers in Albany Should Stay Put [Editorial]

Lawmakers in Albany Should Stay Put

The New York Times 

June 18, 2013

After another run of indictments and arrests of public officials, New York’s lawmakers are planning to leave Albany this week without doing anything about the scandals around them. The list of unattended priorities left for next year is long and shameful. And at the top is campaign finance reform — specifically a system of public financing that would encourage more candidates to run for office and give voters wider choices. It is hard to throw rascals out if there is nobody else on the ballot.

With so little to show for the 2013 session, legislators should not even be thinking about leaving town. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be keeping them on the job until they vote on bills, beginning with public financing, either as part of his anti-corruption package or on its own.

The Assembly passed a modest campaign financing bill, which Mr. Cuomo has supported. But the Senate has done nothing, largely because of a self-serving agreement that breakaway Democrats made in December in order to share power with the Republicans. That agreement — struck between Jeffrey Klein, a Democrat, and Dean Skelos, a Republican — allows either leader to stop a vote from coming to the floor.

Now that the Democrats are in the majority, the agreement looks ridiculous. It has also allowed the Republican minority and their Democratic enablers to block votes on critical issues like public financing, the various anti-corruption measures, a 10-point women’s equality bill, an agricultural workers package and others.

The public should know where their representatives stand on these issues and, as Mr. Cuomo told The Times, “at least have the courage to raise your hand, yea or nay.”

That the Republicans are chiefly to blame here does not relieve the governor and Senate Democrats of the need to find a way to get these bills to the floor for a vote. Otherwise, they are simply ceding power over lawmaking to the Republican minority and leaving business that should be finished this year to an uncertain future.

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