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For Immediate Release
Contact- Jake Oliver, [email protected], 347 361 9983

New York, N.Y. (April 8, 2022) – Citizens Union releases the following statement from Executive Director Betsy Gotbaum on the details of the New York State budget deal:

“Governor Hochul’s first state budget presented a rare opportunity to push for meaningful ethics reform in Albany. Unfortunately, the governor and the legislature failed to create an independent ethics oversight body. The new commission designed to replace JCOPE is fatally flawed, will not have the public’s confidence and will not be able to oversee the state’s most powerful elected officials without fear or favor.

“The budget does include some positive reforms that Citizens Union has advocated for. For the first time, all college campuses with more than 300 registered voters will now have a poll site on campus. New York students have contended with distant and inaccessible polling locations for years and have had to fight local boards of elections to access the ballot. This new policy will make it easier for young New Yorkers to vote. However, several large campuses still lack Early Voting polling sites. We encourage the legislature to expand this policy to apply to the early voting period as well.

“The budget also makes it easier to vote using an absentee ballot, which will now be delivered to voters with a prepaid return envelope. Elections during the pandemic proved that New Yorkers would enthusiastically adopt mail-in voting. Prepaid return envelopes will reduce confusion and simplify absentee voting. We note that this bill was added to the budget at the very last minute, with no public notice or input. There is no reason for such a policy to pass through a rushed, secretive lawmaking process.

“In addition, the budget legislation finally establishes a ‘database of deals’ for New York State government. This will bring increased transparency to the $5 billion in business subsidies the state provides every year. Citizens Union has called for improvements in the public review and analysis of economic development projects for years. This database is an important step forward. The success of this reform hinges on commitment and cooperation from the governor and Empire State Development, which will operate the database. They should work with watchdogs to ensure this program fulfills its purpose. 

“Lastly, the state budget provides much-needed funding for elections, including $20 million to start the state’s new public campaign matching funds program, and assistance to local Boards of Elections for implementation and expansion of early voting. 

“We call on the Governor to continue pushing for the rest of the voting goals she presented in her State of the State address, including reducing the voter registration deadline to 10 days.”

About Citizens Union 
For 125 years, Citizens Union has been a force for transparency, accountability and ethics in New York’s City and State governments. A nonpartisan organization, some of our current initiatives include a new agenda for police accountability, monitoring the City Council’s redistricting process and increasing civic engagement. Learn more at www.citizensunion.org.

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