Cuomo, lawmakers push campaign finance reform

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A day after penning an op-ed piece arguing for campaign finance reform, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has support from two key lawmakers and the Senate Republicans are involved in negotiations.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Wednesday he is encouraged that Cuomo is pushing public financing of campaigns, which would match small donor contributions with state funds.

The Manhattan Democrat has championed the issue for nearly three decades and is hoping Cuomo can help broker a compromise between Republicans and Democrats.

“Governor Cuomo can help achieve real results by bringing stakeholders together and forging a consensus,” Silver said, adding that he thinks the state is closer than ever to enacting public campaign finance.

Democratic Sen. Jeff Klein, co-leader of the Senate, also supports the measure. But his Republican counterpart, Sen. Dean Skelos, opposes using taxpayer money to finance elections.

“My biggest issue has been taxpayer finance,” said Skelos, of Long Island. “I’m not looking to spend $200 million of taxpayer money to fund campaigns and perhaps candidates that people disagree with.”

But Skelos hasn’t completely dismissed campaign finance reform, saying the ongoing discussions cover “a whole slew of different ideas.”

Senate Democrats released legislation Tuesday, the same day Cuomo’s op-ed appeared on the Huffington Post. Their financing proposal would match every dollar donated, up to $250, with $6 in state funds.

To make campaign finance reform more appealing to Republicans, proponents have discussed lowering the matching dollar amount to use less taxpayer money.

“We may not be able to shut off the spigot of money into the system, but by providing public financing we can increase public participation and ensure that deserving candidates, not only rich and well-connected ones, have an opportunity to run and compete for elected office,” Cuomo wrote in the op-ed.

Cuomo said he hopes the Senate leadership, the Senate Republicans and a faction of five breakaway Democrats led by Klein, can come to an agreement by the end of June.

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