A voluntary program of publicly financed campaigns will be funded as part of the state budget agreement finalized on Tuesday evening after lawmakers initially considered delaying its implementation.

The budget includes $39.5 million for New York's newly formed campaign finance system of public elections, in which campaigns can match low-dollar donations with public money. 

Funding for the program is a key step for long-time supporters of publicly financed elections, who have argued the measure is necessary in order to reduce the influence of money in politics and government policy.

Opponents, however, have argued taxpayer dollars should not be used to finance political campaigns and Republican lawmakers in Albany have previously called for a reversal of the program. 

Democratic lawmakers this year initially considered either delaying the program or making broader changes, such as how donations are matched with public dollars, before ultimately agreeing to funding both the administration of public funding as well as the matching fund itself. 

“By funding public campaign financing in the new budget, our leaders in Albany have brought New York closer to a democracy that works for all," said Joanna Zdanys, the senior counsel in the elections and government programa t the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. "The groundbreaking program will give everyday voters a bigger say in the decisions that affect their lives. Together with funding to improve voter service and implement recently enacted voting rights legislation, this budget stands up for New York’s voters."

The funding in place means publicly matched dollars can be sought in the current 2024 election cycle in New York state.