Reader's View: Bah Humbug: Senate Democrats’ play Scrooge with $100M welfare-for-politicians scheme

Senator Daphne Jordan

December 09, 2019

Originally published in Saratogian on December 08, 2019.

With Christmas just a few weeks away, the holiday season’s in full swing. While December is the most wonderful season of all, the month kicked off with some Scrooge-like bad news for New York’s taxpayers and voters alike.

While you were shoveling, Albany was scheming

The evening of Sunday, December 1 – as folks were busy dealing with a major winter storm – saw another classic Albany snow job in the form of a 144-page report containing a Commission’s recommendations for creating Albany’s latest bloated, bureaucratic boondoggle, the “Public Campaign Finance Board” (PCFB). The Commission was to “examine, evaluate and make recommendations for new laws with respect to how the state should implement a system of voluntary public campaign financing for state legislative and statewide public offices.”

Albany’s $100 million welfare-for-politicians scheme

The PCFB – comprised of unaccountable political appointees – will control up to $100 million of taxpayer dollars – i.e. YOUR MONEY – to spend on the campaigns of Albany politicians. That wasn’t a typo. $100 million of public money will finance a matching fund for political campaigns – negative ads, nasty mailers, annoying robocalls and all. This scheme was created as part of the 2019-20 State Budget, a bad budget that my Senate Republican colleagues and I voted against.

Under the Democrats’ scheme, 100 donations of $50 would get a candidate $60,000 in matching funds. Thus, a total of $5,000 in donations could be leveraged into $60,000 of taxpayer money to fund a political campaign – and you’ll pay for it. It’s a system ripe for corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse, just as there have been multiple documented cases of abuse within New York City’s public financing system.

Senate Democrats’ misplaced priorities

For the same $100 million used for the Senate Democrat’s welfare-for-politicians scheme, New York could put 2,000 more School Resource Officers (SROs) in our schools to ensure children’s safety. The $100 million could have been set aside to provide tax relief for small businesses, returned to taxpayers, pay down our growing multi-billion dollar state budget deficit – $6.1 billion and growing – and debt, or even help local governments struggling under the weight of Albany’s crushing cost of unfunded mandates.

Instead of those smart options, taxpayers received the “gift” of a $100 million slush fund to finance campaigns for Albany politicians and political candidates. Talk about misplaced priorities!

Political payback stifling voters’ choices

Besides the massive PCFB’s $100 million price tag, tucked in the Commission’s report was a new requirement that so-called “third parties” – including the Conservative, Independence, Reform, Libertarian, Working Families, and Green parties – must receive 130,000 votes or two percent of turnout, whichever is higher, in every gubernatorial and presidential contest to secure their ballot line. The new 130,000-vote threshold, as opposed to the current requirement that these parties receive 50,000 votes every four years. The new provision is nothing more than political payback to third parties that didn’t fall in line with Albany Democrats and could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.

The appointed head of the Commission that issued the report is Jay Jacobs, current Chairman of the New York State Democratic Party and close ally of the Governor. No conflict of interest there! This new, higher vote threshold for New York’s third parties is wrong, undemocratic, and goes against Albany Democrats’ lip service to increasing voter participation in our civic process.

State legislature must reconvene and reject the scheme

The state legislature has until December 22 to amend or reject the report or the Commission’s recommendations will have the force of law. Without question, the state legislature should reconvene and reject the report, its $100 million price tag, and potential disenfranchisement of voters. This welfare-for-politicians scheme amounts to a very large, very costly lump of coal for New York taxpayers and voters courtesy of Albany Democrats playing the role of Scrooge. Ho-ho-ho? I say no-no-no to this scheme!

Contact and connect with me

If I can ever help, call me at (518) 371-2751, e-mail me at jordan@nysenate.gov, visit my Senate webpage at www.jordan.nysenate.gov, or stop by my district office located at 1580 Columbia Turnpike Building 2, Suite 1, Castleton-On-The-Hudson, NY 12033. You can also connect with me on Facebook (Senator Daphne Jordan), Instagram (Senator_Jordan) and Twitter (NY Senator Jordan).

NYS Senator Daphne Jordan serves as the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and represents the 43rd Senate District that includes parts of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties and all of Columbia County.