- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is giving momentum to efforts to revoke the state pensions of corrupt state politicians - a proposal that will require the consent of lawmakers and voters alike.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, is eligible to receive an annual pension of $85,000 to $98,000 because of his 44 years of public service. He was convicted Monday of federal charges that he accepted $4 million in illegal kickbacks.

He formally put in for his pension the same day. As a former state worker, he also will receive state retiree health benefits.

The conviction automatically expelled Silver from the legislative seat he’s held for decades. Before he was ousted earlier this year from the speakership - a position he held for 20 years - he had been making $121,000 a year.

Lawmakers voted in 2011 to withhold pensions of corrupt officials, but that change doesn’t apply to lawmakers or other officials who entered the state pension system before that year.

It will take a voter-approved constitutional amendment to revoke the pensions of those lawmakers elected before 2011. The new speaker, Bronx Democrat Carl Heastie, said his chamber will work with the Senate on an agreement to put the question on the ballot as part of a broader package of bills designed to address the long tradition of corruption in New York state government.

“We will continue our efforts to restore public trust in government,” Heastie said.

The measure must pass the Legislature twice before it goes to the ballot, meaning it would be 2017 at the earliest before it could appear on the ballot.

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