From the Morning Memo:

Election reform is a top contender on Democrats’ legislative priorities this session, particularly in the area of expanding public campaign finance laws.

At the state capitol Monday advocates and elected officials voiced how tough it can be for first time candidates to raise enough money to run.

Albany Common Council President Corey Ellis said that without bird in the hand corporate connections or independent wealth, it’s difficult to convince donors, and voters, you’re a winner.

“The worst thing you want to heard someone say is, ‘well you can’t win because you don’t have the money,'” Ellis said.

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said when she first ran for her seat seven years ago, thoughts about financing the operation was nearly both the beginning and the end of her foray into public office.

“The very first night I made a couple of calls and they said 50 to 75 thousand dollars…I would’ve gone to bed that night saying, ‘that’s it I’m done,’ if they had said more,” she said.

In the end, her decision to run was made separate from the financial imposition burden, but, that burden is immense.

“Ultimately we did raise that money,” said Fahy, “and we raised it nickel by nickel.”

But critics, like state Sen. Cathy Young, say public financing of campaigns awards further credence to a corruption system.

“In New York City, the public financing of campaigns has become a cauldron of corruption,” said Young in a statement, naming lawmakers who have taken advantage of the program in the past, such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and citing the Campaign Finance Board as chief perpetrator.

Not to mention, she argues, the price tag is too hefty for taxpayers.

“Currently, New York State is projected to have a $500 million budget deficit in the forthcoming fiscal year. Modeled after New York City’s public financing system, legislation passed by the State Assembly and sponsored by Democrats in the State Senate would cost taxpayers more than $200 million.”

Young is the ranking Republican on both the Senate Election’s and Ethics Committees and said she will utilize the committee review process, “to raise awareness and marshall public opposition to the Democrats’ plan.”