Public campaign financing is still proving a tough sell to Senate Republicans, who say there are better ways to spend taxpayer money. They are open to other reform options, but that may not be enough for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Governor says negotiations are ongoing. Nick Reisman has the latest.
NEW YORK STATE -- Lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo are working behind the scenes to overhaul the state's campaign finance laws, but are facing a major road block over using taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns.
“For me, personally, and certainly with the conference, I believe that's a non-starter,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos continues to insist he's against the public financing of state campaigns, saying the money is better spent on education. But he is open to other reforms that might include lowering contribution limits and closing loopholes.
“If there are certain reasonable things that we can do with campaign finance reform, I would seriously consider it,” Skelos said.
For several years now, the governor has called for public financing of campaigns, saying it's the best way to get money out of politics. But Cuomo himself has benefited greatly from the state's current laws. He has $14 million in the bank for a re-election that isn't until 2014. And on the same day he blasted the clout money buys in Albany, the governor raised $450,000 at a single fundraiser in western New York. Cuomo says he still wants the public financing option.
“I support public financing and to me, that's an important part of overall campaign finance and those are the conversations that are ongoing with myself and my colleagues and the Assembly and the Senate,” Cuomo said.
Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a measure last month that would provide for a public financing system similar what’s in place for New York City. He says true reform to the system would include the taxpayer-funded component.
“Yeah, we're open to it, but I true bill would be a public financing option,” Silver said.
Good-government groups have said Silver's bill is a good start, but fails to close loopholes for so-called housekeeping committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash.