WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- State Assemblyman David Buchwald's (D-Westchester) proposed legislation that would strip state pension benefits from any public official convicted of a felony where the public’s trust has been violated has gained the support of more than 60 state Assembly members.
“Government officials who betray the public trust should not collect a pension in the same way as those who serve honorably, and I'm pleased that over 60 members of the State Assembly agree with me,” Buchwald said in a statement. “No matter how serious the offense, current law still assures most public employees that their state pensions cannot be challenged. I promised Westchester families that I wouldn’t stand for this type of behavior, and now more than ever we need to act.”
Buchwald's represents Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and White Plains.
The bill is an amendment to the New York State Constitution aiming to strengthen the current “Public Integrity Reform Act,” which only strips pension benefits of convicted officials who first entered the State pension system after the law took effect in November 2011. The amendment would apply to any public official, regardless of when the person first held office.
“When an elected official is sworn into office, he or she must sign a solemn Oath stating that they will uphold the laws and the Constitution that govern New York State,” State Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Albany) said in a statement. “This Oath sets the highest standard for integrity -- the public's trust. A violation of that trust, while in office, demands pecuniary as well as criminal penalty. The current law only regulates officials that joined the pension system after 2011. It is critical that we enact a law that applies to all public officials. The public deserves nothing less.”