Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stepped up his push for campaign finance reform, introducing a bill to establish a taxpayer funded system for state-level candidates. However, Senate Republicans still remain uneasy with the idea. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has the story.
NEW YORK STATE -- A bill that would adopt public financing for state political campaigns has been introduced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a move that he says in an exclusive interview addresses the fundamental problem in modern day elections.
“We believe campaigns should be about debates on issues and not about raising money,” Silver said.
The bill would match six public dollars for every privately donated dollar and then capped, depending on the office. There are provisions designed to encourage small donations of less than $250. State income taxpayers would also be able to donate five dollars by checking a box on their state tax form.
“It's relatively inexpensive. There wasn't an actual price tag put on the bill, but we have heard some figures, $30 million, which is a small price to pay,” said Dave Palmer of Center For Working Families.
But Senate Republicans remain uneasy with the idea.
“I know personally I don't believe taxpayers should be paying for campaigns or individuals' campaigns who they may not support,” Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose campaign fund for 2014 is flush with cash, says he wants to tighten campaign finance laws, though outside of the State of State in January, he hasn't made much of a public push.
“I support campaign finance. I've been pushing it very hard all throughout this session and we have a few weeks left and I hope we get something done. But I haven't gone through the speaker's bill per se,” Cuomo said.
Silver says the talks have gone as high as the staff level and thinks the Senate will be a difficult stumbling block.
“Our staffs have spoken and he's aware that we're going through with this bill in the Assembly. I think the realization that the Senate is going to be a tough hill to climb in order to get it into law,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.
Cuomo is reportedly putting together his own bill that would be voted on by June 21, the end of the legislative session.