As lawmakers prepare to pass a $138 billion budget in the State Capitol today, much attention will be paid to its helping hand toward charter schools and property tax relief. But beyond all that love and good feeling is a malformed plan for campaign finance reform that would only apply to the state comptroller's race.
Good-government groups are already up in arms over the bill, which would immediately affect State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli should he enroll in the planned public campaign finance program -- while exempting the big-spending governor and the legislature from the process.
Gov. Cuomo has previously pointed out that it's not fair to change the rules in the middle of the game and that he shouldn't be expected to unilaterally disarm while his opponents can raise thousands of dollars from a single donor. (Never mind the fact that the governor has roughly a 33 to 1 advantage in campaign cash over his likely GOP opponent.)
But it's not clear why if Cuomo shouldn't be required to return millions of dollars in donations , DiNapoli should enroll in a program in which – according to one estimate -- he'd have to return 73 percent of the money he's already raised.
In addition, Cuomo has agreed to disband his commission to investigate public corruption if the legislature signs off on a handful of ethics reform proposals as well as his DiNapoli Campaign Finance Plan. The Times editorial page – the canary in the coal mine for good government – is loudly chirping over the idea for a legislature that seems to cry out for more oversight, not less.
Ultimately, this is what happens when things are done behind closed doors and rushed ahead of tomorrow's budget deadline. Like children barely able to get their assignment done on time, lawmakers are handing in a term paper that is incomplete. They're celebrating April Fools Day early in Albany.