Reinvent Albany works for open, accountable New York State government.
Reposted with permission from The Brennan Center. Money in Politics is a series which regularly compiles the latest news concerning the corrosive nature of money in New York State politics — and the ongoing need for public financing and robust campaign finance reform.
Women Leaders Sign Letter to Gov. Cuomo and Legislature Urging Reform
This week, more than 160 women business, philanthropic and political leaders signed onto a letter to New York’s legislative leaders and governor, encouraging them to enact comprehensive campaign finance reform with publicly funded elections. “For women in particular, this kind of reform is vital to participation in politics,” the letter stated. Women comprise merely 18 and 25 percent of the seats in the New York State Senate and Assembly, respectively. By contrast, in five out of the six states with publicly funded legislative elections, women constitute a higher percentage of legislators than the national average. In those five states, the percentage of female legislators is at least 8 percent higher than in New York. Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice were just some of the signatories on the letter. Read more…
Under Governor Cuomo, New York State has taken some important steps towards making the state budget more transparent, perhaps among the most transparent anywhere. The governor’s Division of the Budget’s NY Open Budget website includes detailed, downloadable spreadsheets of enacted budgets going back until the early 1990′s. (By comparison, the New York City budget is not available in a machine readable format.)
Importantly, the Division of Budget has also taken the welcome step of including a downloadable spreadsheet of all but one of the 200 tables included in the governor’s proposed 428 page Executive Budget. Kudos to DOB for doing this – including machine-readable versions of the tabular data powering PDF narrative documents is a transparency best practice that we rarely see.
This said, the one data set missing from the 200 machine readable tables is a really important one. The Executive Budget should really include machine-readable School Aid Runs. This is a detailed list of the $21B in state aid the governor proposes giving to each school district, and amounts to about 15% of the entire $141B state budget.
We emailed the State Education Department, and they immediately emailed back the FY 14/15 proposed School Aid Runs in an excel format, which you can download here. We’ve asked the governor’s office to include School Aid Runs with the rest of the Executive Budget Data, and we’re optimistic they’ll do so in future budgets.
NYPIRG’s Blair Horner has been battling legal and illegal corruption in Albany for decades. In this thoughtful post he outlines why this state budget is a truly rare opportunity to major reforms in the campaign finance system, and to radically change Albany’s entrenched culture of pay to play politics:
Lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to tackle the big issue of the session: approving a state budget. As part of that $140 billion plus decision, lawmakers will be forced to also debate a key issue: reforming the state’s campaign finance and ethics laws.
For at least 30 years, New York governors have called for sweeping campaign finance reforms. New York has the highest campaign contributions of any state with limits. Its disclosure requirements are weak and its enforcement essentially non-existent.
But for all that talk, Governors Mario Cuomo, George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson achieved virtually no reforms. Lots of talk, no real action.