For Immediate Release: March 30, 2019
HOW TO JUDGE FAIR ELECTIONS LANGUAGE IN THE BUDGET:
A SIMPLE GUIDE
Hint: Does It Mandate the Creation of a
Statewide Public Financing Program, or Not?
In the event that this year’s budget includes language on public financing of elections, the Fair Elections for New York campaign issued the following handy guide for interpreting what we may see:
Language in Budget
Budget contains binding language that would require the launch of a public financing program for all statewide and legislative offices by 2022. It should include, at a minimum, outlining that the following are required as part of the program:
A commission, with expert members and public officials, with authority to work out binding program details by the end of 2019.
Major win for democracy.
Heap praise upon Governor, Senate and Assembly.
No language, or language that mentions public financing of elections but falls short of doing the above. Poison pills. Pilot programs.
Vote to maintain the money-dominated status quo in Albany.
Failure of Governor and Legislature to deliver on reform commitments.
A note on funding the program:
Recent mischaracterizations of the cost notwithstanding, New York could easily cover the $60 million average yearly cost without even touching taxpayer money by following the lead of Congressional Democrats and instituting a small surcharge on corporate fraud penalties, like the $425 million New York fined Deutsche Bank in 2017 for involvement in international money-laundering. In 2017, for example, a 5% surcharge would have generated $57 million, or basically enough to cover the program. Other off-budget solutions exist, which can be explored and finalized after the budget process. With a 2022 implementation date, relatively little money is needed in this budget in order to get started.
New Yorkers deserve a responsive, accountable government. Voter turnout in New York is among the lowest in the nation, due in part to antiquated procedures for registration and voting that discourage participation. And our campaign finance system favors the wealthy over everyday, working New Yorkers.
To tackle the crises we face in housing, living wage jobs, criminal justice, affordable health care, transportation, climate, fair taxes, and more, we must transform a campaign finance system that advantages the interests of the few over those of the many.
Help us create a public campaign financing system in New York.
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