New York State’s Ethical Crisis: What Is Governor Cuomo Going To Do About It?

Emma Maceko, Albany Government Law Review Member

Introduction

New York State’s newly elected Governor, Andrew Cuomo, delivered his first State of the State address on January 5, 2011, in front of over two thousand people at Albany’s Convention Center.  During this address, he bluntly stated that “[t]his is a time of crisis for our state.”[1] No one can deny that the State of New York is in dire straits, plagued by a number of serious and controversial problems in need of immediate attention.  Although issues like the State’s current ten billion dollar budget deficit[2] and its high unemployment rate dominated Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address and have also stolen much of the media spotlight, the issue of ethical reform within the state government is one of great importance that should not be overlooked.

Ethical reform is an issue that has been getting a lot of attention all over the country, especially here in New York State.  Governor Cuomo addressed this issue in his State of the State address amid his discussion about reinventing the state government.  Governor Cuomo must approach ethical reform head on, and how he handles it will likely be critical to the success of his administration.  The people of New York State have lost confidence in their government.  Over the past few years, New York State politicians at all levels of government have made headline after headline for being at the center of high-profile political scandals, scandals that have resulted in a growing sense of distrust and disillusionment toward the government and other public institutions.[3] Governor Cuomo made cleaning up Albany a key campaign pledge, but what is it that he is proposing and how can future abuses by state politicians be prevented?

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