Critical Changes to Know About Public Finance System

New York’s Public Campaign Finance System makes hundreds of thousands of matching dollars available to candidates for the State Legislature who qualify, comply with legal requirements, and meet certain financial thresholds in their fundraising.  Now the State Legislature has passed changes to the new state Public Campaign Finance Law that will have significant impacts for candidates for the Senate and Assembly in 2024.  It awaits the governor’s signature.

The Financial Thresholds

Start fundraising early!  The bill raises the amount of money you must raise and the number of contributors you must have from the district to receive public matching funds.  Before the change, candidates for Assembly needed to raise $6,000 in matchable contributions up to $250 and matchable contributions of $5 or more from 75 different district residents.  Now, Assembly candidates must raise $10,000 and receive 145 contributions of $5 or more in matchable contributions from the district.  For Senate candidates, the old numbers were $12,000 and 150 contributions from matchable contributions from district residents, now they are $24,000 and 350 contributions from district residents. 

Your campaign will want to significantly exceed these minimum thresholds because there will certainly be contributions you believe to be matchable that the Public Campaign Finance Board will deem non-matchable. 

In other words, this is a heavy lift, a challenging task for all campaigns.  We strongly recommend that you get your new Public Campaign Finance system committee and bank account set up early and start your in-district fundraising as soon as possible to ensure you receive public funds for the election. 

Maximum Public Funds

The maximum public funds a Senate campaign can receive for each primary and general election has stayed the same, $350,000.  But the maximum public funds Assembly campaigns is lowered in the bill from $175,000 per primary and per general election to $145,000, 

However, if you are in a primary and a general election, and you do not spend all your public funds in your primary, the amount you can receive in public matching funds in the general election is reduced by the amount of public funds you received but did not spend in the primary. 

Matchable Contributions

Only the portion of a contribution up to $250 is matchable, but under the new law if your campaign receives, for example, additional contributions from an individual donor that when added together exceed $250, it does not render the contribution non-matchable. Under the law before the change, if you received a matchable $250 from a contributor, any small contribution from the same contributor would trigger a demand for a return of these matching funds. 

Public Funds Payment Dates

The bill sets concrete dates for payments of public funds to qualifying campaigns.  The first payment date is December 15 before the election year, then the 15th of each following month until April 15.  The bill also requires that the Public Campaign Finance Board set no less than three payment dates within 45 days of the election.  For the general election, the bill sets a July 15 payment date and requires four additional payments within 90 days of the election day. 

Governor Hochul has not yet signed the bill into law, so these changes are still tentative and there is still time to let her office know whether you support or oppose it. Regardless, given the requirements to get your committee up and running and ready to receive public funds and meeting the threshold requirements under any scenario will be a time consuming challenge. Getting started early will only enhance your chances of receiving public matching funds.

If you’re interested in digging deeper into all the details, the bill is here. If you need our assistance in getting you campaign up and running in the Public Finance system, fill out our contact form or just give us a call!


Leo Glickman