Historic Public Financing Pilot Project Goes to Assembly for Concurrence Vote Before Going to Governor’s Desk
SACRAMENTO — “Fair Elections” public financing of campaigns is now only one step from the Governor’s desk after AB 583, the California Fair Elections Act (Hancock, D-Oakland), passed out of the full Senate by a vote yesterday of 21-18.
AB 583 would establish a pilot project for voluntary full public financing system for Secretary of State candidates in 2014 and 2018. It is modeled after the “Clean Money” systems that have been working in Arizona and Maine for eight years and recently adopted by Connecticut and other localities. Connecticut’s new system is so popular that 95% of legislative candidates this year plan to use it.
“The Secretary of State makes a perfect pilot project for Fair Elections funding because it is the office that guards the very integrity of our electoral system”, said Julie Rajan, Executive Director of the California Clean Money Campaign, the sponsor of the bill. “Secretary of State candidates, like all other candidates, have to spend huge amounts of time raising money for their campaigns from private contributors. Californians would have more faith in their government if candidates could instead spend more time talking to voters instead.”
AB 583 is funded by voluntary contributions designated on state tax returns and by a registration fee of $350 a year on lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers, the same as in Illinois. Currently California lobbyists only pay $12.50 a year, one of the lowest rates in the country. Even barbers and cosmetologists pay higher license fees than lobbyists do now.
Speaking after the floor vote, Assemblymember Hancock said, “This bill is now just one floor vote away from the Governor’s desk. This reform is a critical step to helping restore the voters’ confidence in government.”
“AB 583 co-author Senate President pro-Tem Don Perata and Senate President pro Tem-elect Darrell Steinberg have demonstrated strong leadership by moving this bill off the Senate floor”, said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. “Now it’s up to their colleagues in the Assembly to pass a Fair Elections public financing bill off the Assembly Floor for a third time.”
AB 583 is supported by a wide range of organizations, from good government groups like the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, and CalPIRG to groups representing diverse Californian interests such as Sierra Club California, Consumer Federation of California, Equal Justice Society, California Nurses Association, California Teamsters, and Gray Panthers California.
The most vocal organizational opposition comes from the Institute for Governmental Advocates, a trade association that lobbies for lobbyists.
All but four Democrats voted for the bill. No Republicans voted for it.
The bill now goes to the Assembly for a concurrence vote, where it has 20 co-authors, including Elections Chair Curren Price and Appropriations Chair Mark Leno, and where Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has been a longtime supporter of Fair Elections funding.
The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to build statewide support for public funding of election campaigns. For further information, visit www.CAclean.org.