New York State Senator Thomas Croci (R, C, I, - Sayville), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Veterans and Military Affairs and Chairman of the Senate Standing Ethics Committee, has introduced a Senate bill (S6326) that would strip away the pensions of public officials that have been convicted of a felony.
“We are the guardians of a great public trust. The security of New Yorkers, and the legitimacy of our government institutions are our fundamental responsibility. If you violate the public trust and are convicted of a felony, you must then forfeit a public pension. A public officer has a duty to maintain this trust throughout their service and taxpayers should not be expected to pay for the pension when that breach of good faith has occurred,” stated Senator Croci.
The bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow for a law to be adopted so that public officials could lose their pension benefits when convicted of a breach of public trust, regardless of when they entered the retirement system. Under the current Public Integrity Reform Act, only public officials who joined the state retirement system on or after November 13, 2011 are subject to the forfeiture of their pensions for committing certain felonies related to public office. The New York State Constitution forbids the retroactive reduction of pension benefits prior to that date, so an amendment is necessary to make sure all public officials are held to the same high standard. It would apply to public officials in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at all levels of government who are members of the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System.
The legislation also makes the distinction that the forfeiture of a public pension does not go into effect until all appeals pertaining to a felony conviction have been exhausted.