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Opinion | Cut New York Politicians’ Financial Ties to Business


As Mr. Cuomo argues, new limits on contributions must include Assembly and Senate races. Such measures should include the state attorney general and comptroller as well. While Albany could adopt such rules through legislation, the state public financing commission, already underway, should also address them under its mandate.

Mr. Cuomo doesn’t need to wait for new rules to do the right thing. He can pledge now that he will no longer accept campaign contributions from people and companies with business before the state and be specific about the kinds of donors he means. State legislators, led by the Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and the Assembly speaker, Carl Heastie, could make the same commitment.

The governor has been outspoken about the transportation authority’s need to negotiate better deals with its contractors. He has proposed sweeping changes to the way it functions, saying they are necessary to reduce costs and improve efficiency. One plan he backed, which was adopted by the authority’s board last week, calls for consolidating procurement and construction work for contractors. These changes could save the agency $500 million each year but could also cost some 2,700 jobs.

In May, Mr. Cuomo accused transit workers of abusing the overtime system, provoking the ire of unions. “This is about stealing. This is about fraud,” he said at the time.

Inflated construction contracts are substantial drivers of the high cost of agency projects. The project to connect the Long Island Rail Road with Manhattan’s East Side, for example, cost $3.5 billion per mile of track. Generous labor union contracts have also contributed to high costs.

Mr. Cuomo is asking for tough changes at the authority. And he is right that the authority, with bureaucracy to rival the Kremlin, is in need of major reform. But driving major change requires not just forcefulness but also credibility and trust. The governor should consider making a public commitment not to accept donations from companies and people who have business before the state. The public financing commission and the Legislature should put clear limits on these donations into law.

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