Source: krissikes/Flickr

Lawmakers in Albany aren’t subjected to term limits and the Conservative Party wants to change that. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that Conservative Party chairman Mike Long is pushing an effort to bring term limits to the New York State Senate, Assembly and governor posts.

The call to ask legislators to limit the amount of time they can serve in office is a tough sell. Besides the power and prestige that comes with being a New York State lawmaker, entrenched senators and assemblymembers make $79,500 a year plus a per diem ($171 per full day, $61 per half day). Governors get $170,050 plus a mansion. Combined with access to taxpayer funded healthcare benefits, that is a decent chunk of change. Oh, and did we mention, it’s the legislators who have to write their term limits into law?

Still, party leaders like Long believe it is an effective way to weed out corruption and keep politicians more focused.

“We hear a lot of talk about fixing Albany and about getting rid of the corruption. But nothing they’re doing is going to address the problem,” Long told the Daily Eagle. “If legislators knew they only had a limited time to serve, they would concentrate on getting things done for the benefit of New Yorkers, instead of putting all of their focus into getting re-elected.”

Long’s plan would call for limiting the governor to two terms (eight years) and a maximum of 12 years for Assembly and Senate members (six terms). Long acknowledged that the effort to install term limits would not be popular with the lawmakers themselves and he is considering other options, even if that means ending the careers of some of the most powerful members that his party has endorsed:

Long knows that his party is facing an uphill battle on the term limits front. “It’s pretty hard to get legislators to term limit themselves,” he said. If appealing to the lawmakers’ consciences doesn’t work, the Conservatives will consider pushing for a public referendum to be put on the ballot, similar to how the term limits law was passed in New York City.

Long said he is also aware that the entire legislator would be painted with the same broad term limits brush. If it passed, lawmakers the party has endorsed, like state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) would be term limited. “It would apply to everyone,” he said.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D), who has served the Bensonhurst for 26 years, came out against Long’s plan.

“The people should make the decision. Look at the mess term limits have caused in the city,” Abbate told the Daily Eagle. “You have people trying to move up to higher offices because they know they can’t run for re-election. And you have people running for office who are not ready. They’re running just because the seat is open,” he said.

Personally, I think term limits are a good idea considering the general sorry state of the country’s campaign finance laws. Politicians, desperate to to get reelected season after season, sell their judgement and their votes to keep their campaign chests filled. This never ending cycle is ultimately unethical, turning the most senior lawmakers into jaded hypocritical husks all while tainting the democratic process, opening doors to graft and corruption.

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  • justaguywholikestotalk

    To clarify, is the last paragraph the voice of the author?

  • BMB

    There are term limits in the City (despite the temporary extension) and that has not prevented corruption (Halloran, Seabrook, etc.). Instead of focusing on being re-elected, term limited elected officials simply focus on running for a different office (witness: Lappin, Jackson, Vallone, Brewer, Oddo, Dilan, Barron, Comrie, James, Quinn, Recchia, etc… some of whom are good legislators, but you get the point) – in which case they’re even LESS motivated to take the time and effort it takes to build up the institution they are serving in. If you plan to make the Senate, House, State Senate, Assembly, or City Council your career then you will care about building it and it’s powers. If you plan to hang out there for 8 years before you move on…. well, by the time you figure out what’s going on, you’re out of office. Term limits only weakens the Legislative in respect to the already powerful Executive offices. If you want unethical elected officials out of office, well, you’re a reporter – report on them! Let the electorate be informed (and, while you’re at it, push for campaign finance reform). Term limits sound nice, but they sweep the good out with the bad and – as we’ve already seen with the recent scandals in the City – don’t keep the unethical or the ignorant or the lazy from gaining office.