Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: Action Needed on Campaign Reform [Editorial]

Action Needed on Campaign Reform

Democrat and Chronicle

January 23, 2012

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is credited with a successful first year and much of that credit is deserved. But there are several issues that have remained unresolved, campaign finance reform among them.

The governor continues to say the right things when it comes to changing the way elections are paid for — and, thus, influenced — in the state. He notes that public funding of campaigns would pare back one of the enormous advantages of incumbency in New York. And he correctly points to those advantages being partly to blame for New York ranking 48th in the nation in voter turnout.

So Cuomo says he will introduce a bill in the coming weeks that would call for public financing of campaigns and limits on the maximum donations that can be made to candidates. Good. He must then follow through — forcefully.

Cuomo has been able to work his will in Albany for achievements like last year’s on-time budget and legalization of gay marriage. He must now convince lawmakers to set aside personal benefit for the greater good — never an easy task, particularly in politics.

If he’s successful, however, Cuomo has an opportunity to dramatically alter the state’s electoral landscape. Such reforms would level the playing field not only in state-level but statewide races, like the contest for governor. And Cuomo himself has not been immune to donations from special interests, such as same-sex marriage proponents.

Voters deserve choices. For voters in New York to have real choices, the governor must not only introduce his campaign finance reform bill, but prod the Legislature to deliver.

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