New York’s Public Campaign Finance Commission released its recommendations Sunday night. As of Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had not yet had a chance to go through the entire report.
Still, the governor seemed impressed with what he did know about the commission’s work.
“It’s clear that it makes historic changes and it goes a long way to bring down the power of money in politics,” he said. “It drops contribution levels way down. It starts public financing. So it’s probably in my life time it’s been the most aggressive positive reform of money in politics.”
However, the report already has quite a few critics. Political activists are disappointed about new vote and signature thresholds that stand to neuter most of the state’s minor parties.
Some progressive lawmakers believe the proposal continues to overvalue large dollar donors, while many Republicans are rejecting the idea of using taxpayer money for campaigns, outright. Cuomo says there’s a mechanism for the Legislature to reject the recommendations, which would otherwise become law at the end of the year.
“If you’re not happy with it then you can come in with it back in a special session or the legislature would accept it,” he said. “That’s they’re choice now. If they don’t like the plan they should come back into special session and reform it.
However, a special session in the middle of the holiday season has always seemed unlikely and because none of the recommendations take effect immediately, many lawmakers believe they have another option: repeal when they return to Albany in 2020. That would also give them the option of keeping some portions of the report and not others, rather than a straight up or down vote this year.
Cuomo said that would be a bad idea.
“The plan is one plan,” he said. “It’s integrated we designed a system. You can’t pull out one piece of the system and expect the system to work, right? Because they’re all interconnected.”
The governor also pointed out the commission came together only after the Legislature repeatedly failed to make campaign finance reform on its own.