Big donors dominate New York State elections, earning the state a longstanding reputation for pay-to-play lawmaking and political corruption. Implementing small donor public financing would measurably increase the voice of regular New Yorkers in the political process and incentivize candidates to turn to them for campaign support.
The Brennan Center has a long history of working to improve democracy in our home state of New York. We play a leading role in a broad coalition of issue and grassroots groups calling for comprehensive reform of New York election laws, beginning with small donor public financing. We also work with a group of the state’s business and civic leaders, NY LEAD (New York Leadership for Accountable Government), who urge campaign finance reform to increase fairness and integrity in government.
In April 2019, New York lawmakers passed a budget bill paving the way for a small donor public financing program for statewide and state legislative offices. A commission has been tasked with designing the program by December 1.
This program, adapted from New York City’s successful model, would incentivize candidates to seek campaign support from a broad swath of regular New Yorkers rather than just a few wealthy donors. New York should also lower its exceptionally high contribution limits, which allow individuals to give as much as $69,700 to a candidate for statewide office.