The Public Campaign Financing Commission is set to meet Wednesday as it prepares its final report by the end of this month setting down its final recommendations for how a system would work.
The commission could determine the future of how campaigns are funded and function in New York elections and its recommendations have the force of law if state lawmakers do not return and vote to make changes.
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So far, advocates for public financing of campaigns have not embraced all of the floated proposals made at the public meetings amid concerns the system would be too unwieldy for candidates to participate in, making it potentially a bust.
One of the commissioners appointed by Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is expected today to propose something of a counter program.
Here, broadly outlined, are the details:
- Donation limits of $5,600 statewide, $4,200 for Senate, $2,850 for Assembly for candidates participating in the program. Donor limits would also be lowered for candidates who do not participate.
- The creation a campaign finance board to monitor and regulate the system.
- Matches for public funds would be phased over the course of contributions, 12:1 to 8:1 for in-district contributions, with $100 of out-of-district donations matched at 4:1 for poorer districts
- Candidates who are participating in a public financing program would be barred from spending money amassed in campaign account from previous cycles where they did not receive matching funds. The money and be spent elsewhere for officeholder expanses or future campaigns where they are not participating in the program.
- Adoption of New York City’s rules for banning contributions from those doing business with the government
- The program would begin in the 2022 election cycle.
At the moment, it seems clear the commission has been moving toward a model that would encourage in-district contributions and reduce New York’s overall donation limits, which are higher than the federal contribution caps.
It’s a tricky balancing act, however. Campaigns are run differently in different areas of the state, where the cost of running a TV or radio ad are higher or lower depending on the media market and contributions from constituents can be difficult to rise if a candidate is running in area with high poverty.
And, as of this week, there has been little appetite signaled from lawmakers about returning to Albany to make wholesale changes or rejections of the commission’s work.
That, of course, could change if the commission releases something too egregious for the Legislature to accept, even if their own appointees back the recommendations.