Officials overseeing the state's new system of publicly financed campaigns on Thursday approved $114.5 million for its administration as well as money to match small-dollar donations to candidates running for elected offices.
The move is the latest development in the creation of the new system meant to reduce the influence of big money in New York's elections and campaigns.
The money approved Thursday includes $14.5 million for program administrative costs and $100 million for funds used to match donations.
Contribution limits for participating candidates will be capped at only a few hundred dollars. Donations given to a legislative candidate within the district will be matched with public money.
Advocates have long hoped a system, which is set to take effect this election cycle, will enable a more diverse array of candidates. But they also urged the public campaign finance board overseeing the new system to fully fund it.
“It is profoundly undemocratic for public office to be the purview of only the rich, especially given the recent assaults on the right to vote," said Karen Wharton of the group Citizen Action. "Imagine how different our state government will be when everyday New Yorkers fill the seats in the legislature and the governor’s mansion. It’s critical that Gov. Kathy Hochul take the Public Campaign Finance Program seriously and fully fund it, so New York State politics can become more representative of and responsive to the needs of everyday New Yorkers.”
There are skeptics of publicly financed campaigns. Republican officials have questioned the cost of using public money to help fund campaigns and have pledged strict oversight of the system.
Money to pay for it will be drawn from the state's pot of unclaimed funds overseen by the comptroller's office.