Advocates Show Strong Support in House Finance Committee for Public Election Fund
On Wednesday, at least two dozen citizens turned out in the House Appropriations and Finance Committee to show their support for the budget requests made by the Secretary of State to restore funds that have been reallocated from the Public Election Fund and for a fully funded operational budget that is desperately needed by the office to administrate our elections.
Among these advocates were members and staff of Common Cause New Mexico, the Santa Fe Democratic Party, the Climate Coalition, Retake Our Democracy and leadership from the New Mexico Democratic Party, all of whom stood in support of the Secretary of State’s requests for funding.
Secretary Toulouse Oliver stated, “We do not support continuined use of the Public Election Fund to supplement the operating budget.... Both recommendations before you include use of the Public Election Fund to supplement the FY19 budget which is counterproductive to the efforts to restore and preserve it for its intended use….Under the currently postposed recommendations, we cannot provide anywhere close to the statutorily mandated funding for those races.”
For years, the Secretary of State’s office has been grossly underfunded, and nearly every session, legislators have moved money from the state’s Public Election Fund to pay for administering our elections and their general operating budget. This fund was created to ONLY provide money to qualifying candidates for the PRC and statewide judicial races. It is imperative that all of the funding MUST be restored this year given the number of races in for the PRC, NM Court of Appeals and the NM Supreme Court in 2018.
Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators, or were able to attend the House Appropriations and Finance Committee in person to ask that this fund be made whole again by restoring money that has been taken over the last two years. Doing so will allow candidates who qualify for public financing in those statewide races to receive the full funding that they will need to run a viable campaign.
The committee voted to have their staff work directly with the Secretary on this matter to bring the budget amount requested by the Secretary and the budget recommendation by the finance committee to a compromise, and then bring a new final proposal back later in the session as the budget is finalized.
Thanks for reading, and we will be back next week with details on our other legislative priorities, updates and upcoming hearings!