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Gov. Cuomo to tout public financing of campaigns

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is shown at an

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is shown at an event at Madison Square Garden. (Dec. 3, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will try to impose a system of public financing of campaigns and ethics reforms for New York in his executive budget proposal Tuesday, his spokesman said.

Last week more than a dozen groups led by the Working Families Party, which is influential in Democratic politics, urged Cuomo to use his extensive budget powers to overcome opposition by Senate Republicans, according to the groups' letter first reported by Newsday.

"By including public financing of elections in the budget, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated national leadership," Karen Scharff of the Fair Elections for New York coalition said Monday. "The governor is showing he is serious about cleaning up Albany and fixing our broken political system."

Cuomo hopes to use his significant power under budget law to secure a voluntary system in which $6 in state funds would be used to match every $1 a candidate raises, an administration official said. Cuomo says he wants to reduce the influence of big donors and to allow more New Yorkers to consider political runs, regardless of their means.

Under budget law, if Cuomo submits emergency spending measures after the April 1 deadline for passage of a budget, they can become law without the Legislature's approval.

Senate Republicans have blocked the measure for years. They say the millions of dollars to fund the system would be better spent on schools, tax breaks or other measures.

"Any proposal to build a campaign system on the backs of hardworking New Yorkers fails to account for the financial pressures they already face," Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) said Monday.

The groups signing the letter included Common Cause NY, the New York Public Interest Research Group, the State Council of Churches, the Long Island Progressive Coalition and the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce. The groups also have been buoyed by the rise of liberal Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Cuomo, who is seeking to push his fourth-year agenda through the Legislature this election year, would start the public financing system in 2016, the next legislative election year. He would delay the system for statewide elected officials until their next election in 2018.

A Siena College poll released Monday showed 64 percent of New York voters support public financing of campaigns, with 30 percent opposed.

The poll also shows strong support for many of Cuomo other 2014 priorities. More than three in four voters support suspending a the license of driver under 21 years old for a year for texting while driving, expanding prekindergarten statewide, revoking the license of drivers with three convictions for driving while intoxicated, and $2 billion in borrowing to bring more technology to all classrooms.

The poll also showed 57 percent of respondents would vote to re-elect Cuomo, while 33 percent said they would prefer someone else.

Cuomo would beat Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino 67-19 percent, an improvement for Cuomo since the November poll. Developer Donald Trump, who is again mulling a run for governor, would lose 70-22 percent to Cuomo, the poll showed.Trump was viewed unfavorably by 57 percent of New Yorkers.

"Neither Trump nor Astorino garners the support of a majority of Republicans and both trail among independents by more than 40 points," said Steven Greenberg of the Siena poll.

The telephone poll, taken Jan. 12-16, has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

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