Term limits, new rules-of-order and greater oversight among list of reforms proposed
To view Chris Jacobs’ Reform Agenda click the link below:
Buffalo, NY (August 31) – Highlighting a pressing need to “bring democracy back to New York State,” Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs and candidate for the New York State Senate today released his comprehensive reform plan for changing the political culture in Albany.
“The New York State Legislature has been called the most ‘dysfunctional’ legislature in the nation, so it’s no surprise that in campaigns across the state this year, one topic is dominating the public discussion: ethics reform,” said Jacobs. “At the root of Albany’s problem is that New York taxpayers are at the mercy of one of the most anti-democratic legislatures in the nation. It’s no secret that our state legislature places massive amounts of power into the hands of the leaders of the two legislative houses and governor, leaving very little power in the hands of the rank-and-file legislators – the actual representatives of the people.”
Jacobs pointed out that close to 20 legislators in the last decade have been convicted of corruption, with the overwhelming majority of them in powerful leadership roles and in office for a very long time.
“The ‘three men in a room’ culture in Albany has to come to an end,” said Jacobs, referring to Albany’s well-known culture, where major decisions are made behind closed doors by the Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, and Leader of the Senate, with minimal input from rank-and-file legislators. “If you are a legislator that is not in leadership you have very little ability to get anything done or have your voice heard, and as a result the citizens you represent are essentially disenfranchised from true representation in Albany. Through my reform agenda, power will be placed back in the hands of all legislators.”
In rolling out his reform plan, Jacobs presented a white paper outlining the measures, emphasizing that he will take with him to Albany if elected to the New York State Senate. Some of the plan’s components include:
- Term limits
- End practice of committee chairs’ additional stipends
- Equal distribution of resources to all legislators, irrespective of party or seniority
- Give rank-and-file legislators ability to move bills out of committee
- Provide members sufficient time to review bills (curtail Governor’s “Message of Necessity”)
- Empower committee’s and sub-committee’s to become substantive parts of legislative process
- Accountability: create annual “legislator report card”
- Create independent budget office (score bills, revenue projects, “Debt Report”)
- Shadow Government Reform – more oversight and reporting of public authorities
Jacobs believes that true reform of the legislature will only happen if members of the Assembly and Senate work together. “That is why I would like to start a bi-partisan and bi-cameral ‘Reform Caucus,’ which will enable reform-minded legislators from the Assembly and Senate to work together for real reform of the legislature,” said Jacobs.