Joint Statement on Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address

January 5, 2012

Brennan Center for Justice, Center for Working Families, Citizen Action of New York, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, Democracy Matters, NYPIRG, Public Campaign, Working Families Party

Susan Lerner, Common Cause: 917-670-5670
Karen Scharff, Citizen Action: 518-755-2269
Erik Opsal, Brennan Center for Justice: 646-292-8356

New York, NY – In yesterday's State of the State Address, Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to lead the push for what could become the most important reform in the nation in 2012: reducing the massive influence of big money in our political system through public financing of elections for New York State.

“It's time we make sure that all New Yorkers have an equal voice in our political process… we must achieve fundamental campaign finance reform by implementing a system of public funding of elections,” said Governor Cuomo, who indicated that New York City’s system would be his model (full campaign finance reform section of the State of the State is attached below).

A broad coalition of good government groups and progressive community groups has rallied around this bold initiative, and will be utilizing their extensive grassroots support and respected positions to help achieve passage of the Governor’s plan.  These groups include the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for Working Families, Citizen Action of New York, Citizens Union, Common Cause NY, Democracy Matters, NYPIRG, Public Campaign and the Working Families Party.

“Governor Cuomo’s strong call for voluntary public funding of campaigns is an exciting and vital proposal. It could make New York a national example of how to revitalize our democracy at all levels. Meaningful campaign reform would curb corruption and boost accountability. It is the single most important next step to transform Albany. We welcome the Governor’s leadership on this issue and are looking forward to helping him make these reforms a reality, "said Michael Waldman, Executive Director of the Brennan Center for Justice.

“The Governor’s commitment to submit a bill to create a system of public financing of elections is a bold and critically important proposal, and Governor Cuomo will be a candidate for good government knighthood when it passes,” said Dave Palmer, Executive Director of the Center for Working Families.

“Campaign finance reform has long been seen as fundamental to changing the culture in Albany. For far too long, campaigns for state office have been characterized by large infusions of campaign dollars from a miniscule proportion of New Yorkers,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union.

“When the number of New Yorkers who contribute to political races is less than those living in prison, it is clear that a system such as public financing is needed to encourage candidates to reach out to a broader group of residents,” said Bill Mahoney Research Coordinator of NYPIRG.

“Governor Cuomo has moved our state into a national leadership position on campaign finance reform.  Public financing of elections, coupled with the campaign finance reform measures he cited in his State of the State Address are key factors necessary to end dysfunction in Albany,” said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause NY.

“There is no better way to put our government back in the hands of the people, reduce government corruption, and restore public trust than a system of publicly financed voter owned elections,” said Karen Scharff, Executive Director of Citizen Action of New York.

“We’re proud to work alongside Governor Cuomo and with our strong supporters in the legislature to make sure public financing of elections is enacted in 2012, and we applaud him for making it a priority,” Scharff concluded.