ALBANY – Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro pledged Thursday to serve not more than two terms if he is elected this fall and will use the immense powers of the governor over the state budget process to push through term limits for the governor and other elected state officials.
Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive, told reporters in Albany that state lawmakers should be limited to a maximum of 12 years in office.
The Republican, who is seeking to unseat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said state officials have become too “entrenched” in their jobs. Advocates of term limits note that power of incumbency perks, from fundraising loopholes to favorably-drawn legislative district lines, make it exceedingly difficult for political challengers to run against incumbents in New York.
Molinaro said “there are too many New Yorkers who have absolutely just lost faith in the institution of government,’’ and that he would voluntarily step down after serving eight years if he is elected in November. He wants a law with such maximum terms for all statewide office holders, and said he would use the governor’s authority to insert policy changes into the state budget process as a way to force an up or down vote on the matter by lawmakers.
Term limits, he said, “demands and forces the public to be more engaged in the decision-making and gets rid of individuals who, quite frankly, have become disengaged from the people they represent.’’
A spokeswoman for Cuomo's campaign noted Molinaro's proposals are not new; Cuomo, she noted, already proposed a term limits measure for lawmakers and statewide officials and in 2015 introduced a plan to make the tax cap permanent in state law.
Molinaro also favors creating an independent state ethics agency, appointment of a new anti-corruption panel under the governor’s Moreland Act authority and restrictions to deal with pay-to-play matters that have plagued Albany.
On other issues, Molinaro also said he favors movement on a measure to legalize sports gambling, but that the state tax level should be higher on the gambling revenues – which would then go into a lock box dedicated only for education funding and for reducing local property tax burdens.
Molinaro said Cynthia Nixon, the activist challenging Cuomo in a Democratic primary, was “wrong” to propose earlier this week making it easier for voters to override property tax caps that are set each year on localities’ ability to raise their property tax levies. He said he seek a sole change in the tax cap program: making the tax cap permanent in state law.