For Immediate Release
April 9, 2022
Today, New York State lawmakers enacted budget legislation for fiscal year 2023, including $20.5 million for the new statewide small donor public financing program starting this fall. The legislation also contained changes to the state’s criminal justice laws. Lawmakers partially rolled back recent reforms to the state’s bail law, among other things making a broader range of cases involving alleged second offenses, occurring while a defendant is released, eligible for jail detention for those who can’t afford bail. This change could increase the number of people behind bars and racial disparities in detention. In addition, lawmakers changed the rules for the “discovery” process, giving prosecutors more leeway in when they share the evidence they plan to use at trial.
Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the following comment:
“We are deeply disappointed by lawmakers’ decision to further weaken bail reform and change the rules of discovery in a way that risks excusing delayed disclosure of evidence by prosecutors. These recent reforms were vital steps toward building a fairer justice system, and key to reducing racial disparities throughout our legal system. We now know that bail reform did not drive recent trends in crime and violent crime — undercutting years of fearmongering by some lawmakers and law enforcement officials.While crime has risen since 2019, bail reform is not the problem, and rolling it back to further criminalize poverty is not the solution.”
Joanna Zdanys, senior counsel in the Elections and Government Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had the following comment:
“Today’s budget takes New York one step closer to a campaign finance system that works for all New Yorkers, not just the wealthiest few. Leaders in Albany provided the funds necessary to launch the state’s groundbreaking new small donor public financing program this fall.
“Small donor public financing will give all New Yorkers a greater say in the policies that can have the heaviest impact on historically marginalized and low-income communities, like criminal justice, education, housing, and healthcare. It will make small-donor constituents a viable source of funding for candidates who would rather rely on community support than on a few big checks. This is the change so many New Yorkers have been seeking for so long.
“Small donor public financing is the best reform available to counteract the antidemocratic effects of Citizens United. Today New York is paving the way for the rest of the nation by activating the boldest version of the policy yet.
“At the same time, this budget falls short when it comes to criminal justice. By rolling back progress on bail reform and discovery practices, the state missed an opportunity to deliver on hard-fought reform.
“Small donor public financing can start to change that dynamic by amplifying the voices of all New Yorkers in the political process. Now that the program has the funds it needs to launch, the state is a step closer to becoming the democracy its people deserve.”