Report urges limits on New York lawmakers' outside income to reduce government corruption

Most state lawmakers in New York make little or no money from outside jobs, and the state needs tight restrictions on the income of those who do, according to a new report from a coalition of government watchdog groups.

The analysis released Monday by the New York Public Interest Research Group, Common Cause-New York and Reinvent Albany is the latest recommendation calling for new rules governing outside income by lawmakers as a way to reduce public corruption.

"New York is in its own Watergate moment right now," said Blair Horner, NYPIRG's executive director.

More than two-thirds of lawmakers report less than $20,000 in outside income, the report found. Twenty-one lawmakers made $100,000 or more from outside jobs.

The report recommends the adoption of income restrictions that would cap outside income at 15 percent of the legislative salary, or $12,000 based on the current legislative salary of $79,500. Members of Congress are held to the same percentage.

Senate Democrats have already voiced support for such a plan, but critics including some Senate Republicans have said outside employment brings fresh perspectives to the Legislature. They want the focus to be on tougher rules that require lawmakers to disclose the source of their income.

Greater disclosure is a key part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed ethics overhaul, which would also change the way lawmakers are reimbursed for their travel and lodging expenses.