For Immediate Release: December 16, 2019
LEGISLATURE CAN AND MUST STILL ACT TO FIX DEEPLY FLAWED COMMISSION’S WORK
SENATE, ASSEMBLY, AND GOV MUST DELIVER PROMISED “NATIONAL MODEL”
2020 SESSION BATTLE LOOMS IF THEY FAIL TO ACT
Statement from the Fair Elections for New York campaign:
“The Legislature and the Governor have one week to fix the Public Campaign Financing Commission’s heavily criticized proposal before it becomes law. If lawmakers fail to act, voters can conclude one thing only: Leaders in Albany are happy with the big-money status quo in New York. New Yorkers have demanded loud and clear that lawmakers create a strong small-donor public financing system and leave minor parties out of it. Governor Cuomo said he would deliver a ‘model for the nation’ program, and a 2020 legislative battle looms if the Legislature and the Governor fail to act in the next week.
“In addition to allowing too much big money in, delaying the start date, creating flawed enforcement, and engaging in an undemocratic attack on minor parties, the proposal contains a potential poison pill that the Legislature cannot wait to address. The failure to include a severability clause creates a dangerous situation in which pending lawsuits against the commission could very soon wipe away any progress made by striking down the entire proposal. This process has been mired by backroom political maneuverings resulting in half-baked policy. Enough is enough. It’s time to once and for all deliver what New Yorkers have demanded and our leaders have promised to deliver: a democracy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”
The Fair Elections for New York campaign includes over 200 community, labor, tenant, immigrant, racial justice, environment, faith, good government, and grassroots resistance organizations who came together to fight for comprehensive campaign finance reform in 2019, including small donor public financing.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have all authored Fair Elections proposals in the past and majorities in the Senate and Assembly are on the record in support of creating a small donor public financing program for New York state. After decades of mounting pressure to limit the influence of big money in Albany, advocates made public financing of elections a top budget issue in 2019. Yet the Governor and the Legislature missed an opportunity to create a strong small donor matching system outright, instead leaving critical details to a commission.
The Commission’s process was mired by a lack of transparency and blatant backroom interference leading to unexplained vote reversals and an attack on minor parties in New York, an irrelevant issue to the Commission’s mandate to create a public financing program.
The Commission’s enabling statute gives the Legislature until December 22 to “amend or abrogate” the Commission’s recommendations.
Learn more at FairElectionsNY.org
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.
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