Voters in New York continue to ask what their government is doing for them. For years, scandals in the legislature and statewide offices have cast a shadow of doubt in voters’ minds and have disintegrated the public’s trust in the democratic process. The issues faced every day by average people: their children’s education, dealing with their health insurance companies, or paying their heating bills are all directly affected by state government action or inaction.
We know many candidates run for office and elected officials go to Albany ready to make positive concrete changes in the lives of their constituents. But they are met with a system of elections that discourages them from the start and a system that casts a shadow of corruption: New York’s loophole ridden and weak campaign finance system.
For these reasons and more, PPEF is dedicated to working to toward a system of public financing of elections in New York State.
What is public financing of elections? Instead of candidates raising a lot of large contributions from wealthy donors, a voluntary system of public financing of elections allows candidates to run for office by collecting many small donations and receiving public funds to run their campaign.
Public financing puts political power and the power to make real changes in our communites back into the hands of the people, the voters – not large, corporate campaign donors whose contributions carry weight in the halls of the Capital. We know, if we want effective environmental policies, real tenant protections, health care that works well for all of us, fair utility rates, and more, we have to end the undue influence oil companies, real estate, pharmaceuticals, the insurance industry, and other big lobby groups have because their financial power blocks good laws from being passed and influences passage of bills that hurt the public.
Public financing also helps to level the playing field and gives people from many different backgrounds, including more women and more people of color who are traditionally outspent in campaigns, a fair shot at getting elected without owing favors to corporate interests and lobbyists.
We know public financing of elections works. 26 states have enacted some kind of public financing of election systems including Maine, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina and Vermont. New York City has used a “matching funds” public financing system for its citywide and city council races since 1980.
For more than a decade, Public Policy and Education Fund of New York has been a leading voice for campaign finance reform, specifically, public financing of election campaigns, in New York State. Through our valuable research and analysis of campaign contributions and policy options, as well as public education, leadership development and community outreach, PPEF has become a valued source of information on the issue of public financing of elections.
We currently work with partner in the good government community, environmental advocates, health care advocates, consumer rights organizations, and many others who understand, unless we make this fundamental change to our democratic system, government can never truly only consider the needs of the people of New York State. PPEF has trained hundreds of volunteers and activists across New York to give presentations on the issue of Clean Elections public financing. We have held dozens of Town Hall Meetings and Public Forums on the issue and been a source for reporters and policy makers. We have done in depth analysis on the various types of public financing systems that could work for New York State. Through our research reports on campaign contributions to the legislature and statewide offices, we’ve exemplified the need for change and explained the policy solutions.