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State Leaders Hopeful For Campaign Finance Reform Deal

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With the legislature still reeling from scandal, state leaders are losing hope that certain legislative priorities, including campaign finance reform, can be achieved. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Supporters of publicly financed campaigns filed into the State Capitol Wednesday to lobby for their cause.

At times, their arguments were wonky, Other times, less so, such as when some shouted, "Money out, voters in!"

The heightened pitch seemed to underscore a new reality, that a legislative session marred by scandal and arrests is fast coming to a close.

"There just seem to be a lot of distractions, to say the least," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "You do worry that, will the people's business get done?"

Republicans, who control what bills come for the floor in the state Senate, have come close to ruling out public matching funds for campaigns.

"If these are casualties, it has nothing to do with anything else other than so far, the Senate has expressed the desire that they don't want to do it," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

But others said the taint of scandal allows opponents of campaign finance reform to simply let the issue die.

"I'm hoping this is not one of them," said state Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. "We all understand the importance of getting people back involved in the process."

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to push hard for his tax-free New York initiative, something he only began promoting last week.

NY1 asked the governor whether the strangeness of the session has made him retreat to easier legislative goals, such as his tax-free plan.

"First, Mr. Fink, this has been a strange legislative session. That would suggest that the other legislative sessions were normal, which I would debate your definition of normalcy," Cuomo said.

"It's a very strange legislative session," said Karen Scharf of Citizen Action. "People are definitely on edge. And we hope that the legislators and the governor will respond to that by deciding to show the voters that they can get things done."

Cuomo said he rejects the notion that his tax-free plan is an easy sell. He said lawmakers are reluctant to pass it, even as the legislative session winds down.

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