New York Lawmakers Open To Campaign Finance Reforms And Limiting Influence Of Big Money

By By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

Lawmakers in the state capital say they’re ready to limit the influence of deep-pocketed donors and enact campaign finance reform.

A group of Democrats led by Senate Elections chairman Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) hosted a hearing Wednesday to discuss the proposals that would minimize outside influences and establish a small donor public financing system for the state.

“This is a very critical time in our state. We are going to be voting on and negotiating a budget that is going to have profound impacts in every area of the lives of New Yorkers,” Myrie said. “It is more pivotal now than ever to have everyday people speaking to the leaders of this state.”

“We should be listening to the everyday New Yorker, not the big donor.”

Advocates have long called on the state to enact a matching donor system, similar to that used in the city for the past 30 years.

“We have a model system that has existed in New York City since 1988,” “It’s high time that Albany created a public financing system in New York State. Only with a public financing system will the Legislature and the governor make decisions that are not perceived to be influenced by big donors.”

Gov. Cuomo called for campaign finance reform and changes to lobbying regulations in his initial budget proposal released earlier this year. It’s unclear as the budget deadline nears whether the measures will remain there or if they will be tackled in separate pieces of legislation later in the session.

“I am again cautiously optimistic,” Cuomo told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Wednesday. “I think it’s one of the great opportunities. We have to do more. There’s no doubt about it. We have to move toward a public financing model.”

The Governor’s small donor public financing plan calls for a 6-to-1 match of donations of $175 or less with public money. For each dollar contributed to a campaign, the candidate would receive six dollars in public funds.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature has already taken steps to clean up the culture of corruption that has long plagued the state capital. Legislation centered on voting reforms and closing the LLC loophole that helped mask donors both passed earlier this year.

Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said budget negotiations are moving forward following a closed-door meeting with the governor.

“I would say that we are committed to getting an on-time budget,” Stewart-Cousins said.

Cuomo, meanwhile, admitted that his plan to charge drivers entering parts of Manhattan in order to fund the beleaguered MTA has been a point of contention in the talks.

Congestion pricing is “a tough issue,” he told WNYC, adding that he’s “cautiously optimistic” it will get done in the budget.

“It’s the single toughest issue we have on the agenda.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.