New Yorkers voted Tuesday to strip pensions of public officials convicted of felonies after two dozen state lawmakers were found guilty of corruption over a decade.
New York Proposal Two, the Pension Forfeiture for Convicted Officials Amendment, passed by a margin of nearly 3 to 1, according to Ballotpedia.
The legislation amends the state constitution and allows judges, after a court hearing, to strip officials of their pensions for committing felonies related to their office and official duties.
Currently, former elected officials and convicted felons are cashing in on pensions paying nearly six figures in some cases, Newsday reports.
In January, New York’s legislature overwhelmingly supported a voter referendum on pension forfeiture for the second time, a required step to amend the New York constitution. Lawmakers said the action was necessary to restore the confidence of state residents, according to Newsday.
“From the governor to the legislature to local elected officials, if you violate the public trust and are convicted of a felony, you should forfeit the privilege of a public pension,” GOP state Sen. Tom Croci, who sponsored the bill in the state Senate, told Newsweek when the referendum passed the legislature.
Opponents of the amendment, a total of five lawmakers in the New York legislature, said pensions should be protected as a property right and in the interest of the felon’s family, who may be innocent.
“This is wrong. This is wrong. This is wrong,” Democratic state Sen. Reuben Diaz said, according to Newsweek. “If I do something, then, yes, I go to jail. But then my wife is out on the street? Just to please the media?”
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