(WatchDogReport.org) – New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed an election bill on December 27 that would have radically changed the state’s public financing of political campaigns by increasing the monetary requirement for candidates to qualify. As it stands, the state’s Public Campaign Finance Program allows state legislative office or statewide candidates to get public matching funds from residents in their district in small donations.
According to different reports, while nearly 200 candidates have opted in for this year’s election cycle, any type of political contribution could have matched $250 in public funding under the now-rejected measure. This would have raised the monetary criteria for political candidates to be eligible for participation in the program.
In a veto memo, Hochul said that the state’s finance laws were created to increase the “voices of low-dollar donors” in New York elections and to “amplify” the pool of candidates who are legally permitted to run for office. She added that increasing the number of donations for matching funds would have affected the state budget.
The bill passed in June with a final result of 34 to 29 in the New York Senate, and 80 to 66 in the Assembly — which are both controlled by Democrats. The legislation was sponsored by New York Democratic Senator Zellnor Myrie, along with Assembly Member Latrice Walker and numerous Brooklyn Democrat lawmakers.
Hochul’s rejection was unexpected as she sided with all New York Republican lawmakers and a couple of Democrats to vote against the measure. During an interview with Fox News, the state’s Republican election attorney, Joseph Burns, explained that every conservative lawmaker in New York has always opposed public finance programs. He also said that these programs always fail to improve New York’s electoral system and “democracy.”
Burns also told the conservative network that the bill represented a division between progressive and moderate Democrats. He added that those who voted along with Republican lawmakers in rejecting the bill, including Hochul, are part of a moderate faction of the Democratic Party, which believes that the measure proposed by the progressives was too radical.
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