Sen. Joe Bruno As "The Reformer"
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending Governor Spitzer’s first State of the State address. As he took the stage I half-expected to hear a collective sigh of relief from the people of our State.
The Governor laid out an ambitious agenda before the State Legislature, and needless to say this is going to be an exciting year. Before entering the chamber I met the Governor, who informed me that I’d be pleased with his address. He went on to say that many of the Reforming Albany measures that I have championed in my five years in the Senate were included in his speech.
"We are in danger of losing the confidence of those who elected us,” the Governor told the crowd. “To restore their confidence we must overhaul our campaign finance, lobbying and election laws." It’s nice to have a Governor who gets it.
Governor Spitzer is no shrinking violet. Through self-imposed executive orders, and an open willingness to challenge the status quo, he did more for reform by Day Three than we saw in the previous 12 years. No one is as capable of giving these long-stalled reform efforts the momentum they need to be implemented, but he will need the cooperation of legislative leaders from both chambers.
Senator Joe Bruno, who single-handedly controls what legislation appears for a floor vote in the Senate (I have reform legislation that would change this), has stymied nearly all reform efforts in the Senate. However, his mind can be changed and he has already pledged to support reform efforts once the new session begins. Later this month his word will be put to the test.
He has already “adopted”—for lack of a better word—two of my pieces of reform legislation! The first, S2304, states that "all appropriations and reappropriations shall be specifically itemized and detailed to demonstrate the purpose of such appropriation, including the revenue source of such appropriation, and to ensure accountability in the use of public funds. Such specific itemization shall appear in clear and plain language." The second, S7092,provides for requiring full disclosure of any memoranda of understanding between the governor and the legislature regarding member items, appropriations and capital funding in the state budget.
Senator Bruno has been welcome to support my legislation in each of the years they were introduced, now I hope he let’s me support his. (Republicans frequently do not allow Democrats to support their legislation. Though to be honest, most of it is quite bad, so its generally not a problem!)
Later this month, Senate Democrats will again introduce our legislative rules reform proposals. While Senator Bruno seems to be enjoying his new role in the media, as a Reformer, in short order we will know if he is delivering rhetoric, or results.
Liz Krueger is a State Senator representing New York's 26th District, Manhattan's East Side and Midtown.
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