Congestion pricing will finally become a reality in New York City, which will begin to raise the necessary revenue to fix the subways.
Bail and other criminal justice reforms will hopefully keep people out of Rikers Island and lower the jail population. The banning of single-use plastic bags is a significant win for the environment as well.
But legislators punted on the public financing of elections, which is needed to change the culture of corruption in the state capital.
Instead, the deal will create a commission that will determine a plan moving forward. The panel’s recommendations will go into effect by the end of the year.
Cuomo, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will appoint the members of this nine-member commission.
The decision comes amid a debate about whether or not lawmakers should host expensive campaign fundraisers during budget season. Cuomo hosted a $25,000-a-plate dinner last month, which drew criticism from progressive lawmakers.
The governor’s administration then called out legislators for hosting their own fundraising parties in Albany.
This is why New York needs publicly financed elections. It allows smaller contributions to have more impact. It allows more candidates to run for office.
It won’t completely change the way we finance campaigns –– politicians will still seek large contributions from corporate interests –– but it’s a crucial start to leveling the playing field.
Even New York City doesn’t have a perfect matching system, but it’s better than what we have in the state right now.
The commission needs reform-minded members who can put in place a system that encourages more New Yorkers to participate in our democracy.