Placing a strong emphasis on enforcement and curtailing of criminal wrongdoing for public officials, Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally released a package of measures that would overhaul election laws in New York, beef up enforcement and create a system of public financing of political campaigns that wouldn’t take effect until a year after he runs for re-election.

Cuomo’s public financing proposal would cost up to $41 million, a fraction of the $200 million price tag Senate Republicans believe the program would cost.

Updated: The bill language does include unspecified cash for the state’s general fund, it would appear. The bill doesn’t ban housekeeping or “soft money” accounts, but does place a $25,000 contribution limit on them. Currently, there is no restriction on housekeeping contributions.

The cost of the program would be paid for by a check-off box on the state income tax form, penalties from financial fraud and unclaimed funds from the state comptroller’s office.

The public financing system faces a steep uphill climb in the coalition-led Senate, where Republicans are staunchly opposed to the program.

Cuomo’s proposal wouldn’t have the system take effect until the next statewide election cycle, 2015, or a year after he runs for re-election. Cuomo is sitting on about $20 million in campaign cash for his re-election effort.

In addition to public financing, the bill would lower contribution limits significantly for all state offices and place new restrictions on corporate donations.

At a Red Room news conference at the Capitol today, Cuomo placed a strong emphasis on enforcement of election laws and rooting out corruption. He was flanked by district attorneys from around the state, all of whom pledged to support the measure.

Cuomo wants to empower prosecutors around the state to go after public corruption, a proposal that first surfaced when a rash of corruption cases hit state government that included the arrests of Sens. John Sampson, Malcolm Smith, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson and the revelation that a former lawmaker tapped conversations of her fellow senators at the behest of federal investigators.

Cuomo at today’s news conference placed an emphasis also on restoring trust in state government that was shattered following the arrests.

“The perception itself is the problem,” Cuomo said. “If people feel they can’t trust the body, then that’s the problem.”

Gpb #12 – Campaign Finance Reform – Bill by Nick Reisman