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Press Release Assembly and Senate Budgets - Fair Elections for New York

Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 12, 2019
Contact: press@fairelectionsny.org

Fair Elections for NY Applauds Senate and Assembly For Moving Fair Elections Legislation Forward

200+ Organization Campaign Promises To Keep Pushing Legislation Until It Is Included in Final Budget

It’s a huge step forward that both the Assembly and Senate heard the thousands of New Yorkers who have raised their voices in support of fair elections and responded by including a call for public financing of elections in their respective budget-priority documents. We applaud them for that. However, the voters who chose change over the Albany status quo last year know that real legislative language, not promises, needs to be in the final budget that gets passed this month.

New York residents expect their government to respond to their needs, not the desires of CEOs and lobbyists. Over the next few weeks, thousands of New Yorkers will be getting in touch with their elected officials every day to demand that a system of small donor matching funds for elections be included in this year’s state budget. This is the one provision that can ensure that the voices of every day New Yorkers are amplified, making everyday people, not big money, the center of politics in New York. If this doesn’t happen, the wealthiest donors will continue supplying the vast majority of campaign funds, ensuring that big money interests have the ear of our legislators.

Discussion of public financing of elections properly belongs in the budget. Any effort to extend this debate past the budget can only be seen as an attempt to undercut the chances of passage of this essential reform — one that New Yorkers across the state have been clamoring for in town hall meetings, visits to their legislator’s offices, phone calls, and emails.

Thankfully, small donor public financing only comes out of the budget if the Governor, Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader agree to let it out. We hope and expect that the Governor and supporters in the Assembly and Senate will not let it come out or be watered down. They have the power to do so.  As the Newsday editorial board recently wrote, ‘Now that they can make it happen, to stop short would be nothing short of hypocrisy.’”

BACKGROUND

The issue has been debated for years and concerns that have been raised have been answered.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie have all authored small donor matching systems proposals in the past that were consistently blocked by Republicans in the Senate. The Governor has once again included a small donor matching proposal in this year’s executive budget, and with supportive majorities now in control of both the Assembly and Senate, the path is clear to get the job done.   

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 are building momentum to pass comprehensive campaign finance reform, including small donor public financing, in this year’s budget.

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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.

Owned by Citizen Action New York, Inc.