Let The People Pay The Piper

You know the old saying, “He who pays the piper calls the tune?” Well, today in New York politics, the already-wealthy and powerful are paying to run state campaigns, and once candidates get into office, these donors get to call the tune. While not all of our elected officials are swayed by the power of big money, the system makes it hard for average New Yorkers to be heard in Albany.

That’s how we end up with billions in special interest loopholes and sweetheart deals for CEO donors, but we have to cut education for our kids and raise MTA fares for working folks. Too often we’re getting shut out of a system that’s overwhelmed by campaign checks bigger than most Black New Yorkers’ yearly paychecks.

Fortunately, some of our leaders are as ready for change as we are. There is a proposal in Albany that would finally let the rest of the people of New York pay the piper so that we can finally call the tune. Fair Elections would lower the contribution limits, provide real-time disclosures of all donations and, importantly, match small donations to provide citizen funding of elections like we have for the City Council. According to a Campaign Finance Institute-Brennan Center study, the city’s small donor system has made neighborhoods like Harlem, the South Bronx and Bed-Stuy between three and 11 times more important to City Council candidates than they are to state legislator candidates, who are still operating under the broken system.