Yesterday, Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders adopted a state budget that avoided the meaningful campaign finance reform they’ve been promising for years.

We had hoped that Governor Cuomo would seize an historic opportunity to pass public financing of elections in this state budget for all state and legislative races. He told us that he was pressing for consensus on a system of public financing that would end pay-to-play politics in New York.

Instead, the final budget includes a “pilot” program that would apply only to the State Comptroller’s office and would need to be implemented in just two months, mid-election cycle.

This proposal isn’t a compromise. It’s a capitulation to the deep-pocketed interests that have so much sway at the Capitol and an affirmation of the corrupt status quo that prevails in Cuomo’s Albany.

The Governor didn’t simply fail to act. He was dismissive of the Fair Elections for New York coalition’s efforts throughout the budget process and stood in the way of achieving reform at critical moments in budget negotiations.

At the same time, Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission, whose top recommendation for fixing Albany’s broken campaign finance system was to enact public financing of elections for all statewide and legislative races. The commission was supposed to be a catalyst for reform — instead Cuomo ignored its proposals and ensured its investigations into public corruption would cease.

He said of Fair Elections advocates: “They are disappointed, but they have been disappointed for 30 years.” These are not the comments or the actions of a true champion of campaign finance reform.

But as a result of our campaign, lawmakers have never felt more pressure to address the issue of money in politics in our State Capitol.

Starting immediately and continuing through the fall, our coalition will be engaged in an aggressive effort to educate all New Yorkers on the urgent need for reform and the abject failure of our elected officials to fight for it.

In addition to the Governor’s failure, the ‘Independent Democrats’ failed to show that their Majority Coalition could deliver reform.

The fight for Fair Elections in the 2014 budget may be over, but our work this legislative session and heading into November isn’t.

We will be in the streets talking to everyday people about Albany’s dysfunction and continuing to build a movement for a renewed push against the CEO donors. We will be going door to door to rally people to respond to their representative’s failures.

Together, we will hold accountable those in Albany who continue to protect the corrupt status quo.

Thanks so much for every action you have taken in this campaign, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to get this done.

Karen Scharff
Executive Director, Citizen Action of New York
On Behalf of the Fair Elections for New York Campaign