Letter: Reform in Albany

Speaker Carl Heastie announced on Dec. 18 that the state Assembly will consider taking up procurement reform in the next session. Procurement reform would regulate the process by which state economic development contracts are chosen. My bill (A9260B) addresses this issue by ending the “pay-to-play” system that has led to a number of corruption scandals in Albany.

Pay-to-play is the practice of a business entity or individual making a political contribution to an elected official to gain access and curry favor with those officials who can influence the awarding of lucrative public contracts. A9260B would prevent any business entity or individual that had a contract with the state for more than $15,000 from making contributions to any candidate or political party in the 12 months before or after the contract is awarded.

The current system for assigning state contracts can promote corruption and bribery, and reforming the pay-to-play system would create a more efficient use of taxpayer money in choosing the most qualified contractors for public projects.

Heastie’s comments on procurement reform are made in light of some high-profile corruption cases that have plagued Albany in the last few years. Most recently a former aide to the governor was found to accept bribes in exchange for economic development contracts.

Laws that prevent pay-to-play politics exist in 15 states, dozens of localities such as Greenburgh and New York City, as well as the federal government, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It is not moral or ethical to buy business or policies from the state. A representative democracy should not be quid pro quo. Now is the time for reforms that stress the importance of decisions being in the hands of the representatives, not in the hands of the highest bidder.

Sandy Galef, Albany
Galef’s district in the Assembly includes Philipstown.