Sources are confirming to NY1 that state lawmakers are considering making last-minute changes to a campaign finance program that isn’t even up and running.

New York would become the first state in the nation to adopt a public matching system for candidates. The state’s program is modeled, in part, on New York City’s, which supporters argue has been very successful.

“By stepping back from the program as it was enacted, this innovative and voter empowering program that was enacted in 2020, the state is also steeping back from its role as a national leader on campaign finance reform,” Joanna Zdanys of the Brennan Center at NYU, said.

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers are considering changes that would impact the matching system they adopted three years ago for publicly financed elections

  • Good government groups oppose tinkering with the plan before the season ends in just a few days

  • New York is the first state in the nation to adopt public finances campaigns

Lawmakers are considering raising the cap for matching funds. Right now, contributions are matched with public dollars at $250 per donor and lower.

Under the proposed changes, higher donations would also qualify for that same match. And critics say that goes against the spirit of the law, intended to discourage large donations.

“In no world is this amplifying the voices of small donor New Yorkers who otherwise wouldn’t be heard,” Zdanys said. “So, we are gravely concerned that this not only severely undercuts the purpose of the program but also betrays the trust of the voters who have called on it for so long.”

So far, the proposed changes have not been made public in the form of a bill, with only a few days to go before the legislative session ends. Both the Assembly and the Senate declined to comment.

“Well, everything in Albany is done secretly,” Blair Horner of the good government group, NYPIRG, said. “The only time you hear about anything is usually after the fact. But certainly this is the kid of thing that if they are to do it, they would want to keep it under wraps.”

The bill making changes to the campaign finance system would have to pass both houses and be signed by the governor. Some are wondering why Hochul would go along with something this when she didn’t get much of what she wanted from the legislature this year, and this bill would help incumbents. Her office is also not commenting.