New York Commission Meets to Design New Statewide Public Financing Program

Vote button on top of $100 bills

The New York Public Finance Reform Commission met in Albany, NY to hold the third of five public hearings on the development of the state's small donor public financing system.

Earlier this year, the state passed a budget that included creating the Commission to examine, evaluate, and make recommendations for new laws implementing the public campaign financing for state elections.

When established, this new system would be the first statewide public financing system enacted since 2005, when Connecticut created a public financing program for its statewide candidates.

The Commission is charged with determining and identifying "all details and components reasonably related to administration of a public financing program."

These details and components include important pieces that are crucial to an effective and viable public financing program, such as candidate eligibility requirements, the amount of matching funds available, and administrative oversight of the program.

In other jurisdictions with public financing programs, increasing the amount of public money available to individual voters for supporting their candidate has significantly increased the amount of engagement between voters and candidates.

In a recent example, Seattle first implemented its Democracy Vouchers program in its 2017 elections and the program resulted in a donor base that was larger and more diverse than in previous elections.

In New York City's long-running matching funds program, an analysis found that implementing a 6-to-1 match rate led to increases in the number of individual contributors of $250 or less to local candidates and in the percentage of local candidate's campaign funds coming from these small donors.

There are a number of new public financing programs taking effect across the country, including in Baltimore, Denver, and Washington, D.C. Other programs are considering important updates, like in Albuquerque, N.M. and San Francisco.

The people of New York deserve to be a part of this push for increasing voter engagement and making our campaign finance system more accessible to the average voter.

On September 18, CLC submitted a statement of support for New York's new public financing system to the Public Campaign Financing Commission.

Aaron is a Legal Counsel on CLC's State and Local Reform team.