Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy is promising to veto a state budget plan that would decimate the Citizens’ Election Program (CEP), a national model for campaign finance reform since its adoption more than a decade ago.
The budget proposal, which also would impose dramatic cuts in the state’s support for public colleges and universities, was passed by a bipartisan coalition of state legislators over the weekend.
Drafted by Republicans, who are a minority in the Connecticut General Assembly, the $40.7 billion plan beat out a slightly-larger, Malloy-backed budget proposal that would have used increases in state taxes and fees to help close the state’s a $3.5 billion budget deficit.
Common Cause is rallying activists across the country in support of the CEP, which provides grants of public funds to help finance the campaigns of candidates who agree to accept only small-dollar donations from individuals.
The CEP frees candidates from reliance on large dollar donors, who typically expect something from state government in return for their donations; it also allows non-traditional candidates, including women and people of color, to run winning campaigns.
And it’s a bargain. For Connecticut’s last statewide election, in 2014, CEP provided about $33.5 million to candidates for governor and the legislature; that’s less than two-tenths of one percent of the then-$19 billion state budget.
“Governor Malloy must protect the program and veto this harmful budget,” said Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause Connecticut.
“Defunding the CEP reverts to a system that opens the doors to a Wild West of special interest dominance and unlimited spending. The program saves the state money, opens the door for more people to run for public office, and is national model in how to effective bring positive change to our elections,” Quickmire said.
Connecticut’s legislature enacted CEP in the wake of a scandal that forced then-Gov. John Rowland from office and ultimately sent him to prison. Similar public financing programs are in place in Arizona, Maine and major cities including New York and Los Angeles.
Issues: Money in Politics