The case for publicly financed campaigns in Texas
Senate Bill 974 – being heard in the House Elections Committee this Monday at 10am – would prohibit any local government in Texas from adopting any form of public financing for political campaigns.
This is important because our current campaign finance system allows the wealthy to wield far more influence than the rest of us.
On the other hand, public financing programs serve to amplify the voices of the general public and in doing so, curb the influence of big money special interests.
And public financing is gaining momentum in a big way right now:
- Right now, there are nearly 30 jurisdictions across the country using some type of public campaign financing – including red and blue states and local governments.
- A number of states and cities are right now considering adoption of public financing.
- The For The People Act – the first and highest priority piece of legislation filed by Democrats upon taking the U.S. House of Representatives includes a small donor public financing program.
- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand just rolled her Clean Elections Plan, a federal version of the Democracy Dollars program
While more and more states and local governments are moving towards public financing, SB 974 would take us backwards.
Take Action: Contact your State Representative and let them know you oppose SB 974.
You can use our online tool to find your Rep and their contact info. When you contact them, the message is simple — we simply want local governments to continue to have the CHOICE to adopt public campaign financing.
If you’d like to learn more, below you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the benefits of public campaign financing and additional research:
The Benefits of Public Campaign Financing
- Diversifying the gender, racial and class makeup of candidates pools. If you want to run for office in a place that does not have public financing, you absolutely must have access to one of two things – personal wealth or access to networks of wealthy people. That’s a hurdle too high for a lot of people but especially for women, racial minorities and the poor. Public financing isn’t a magical cure-all, but what it does is allow people who have strong community ties and social networks, but who lack access to wealth, a viable way to fund a campaign. A Common Cause analysis of the Clean Elections programs in Arizona and Maine soon after implementation found that after enactment, more started running for and getting elected to office. Similar results have been around the country for racial minorities.
- Diversifying the donor pool. For a lot of people in this country, they get their paycheck and start thinking about bills, filling prescriptions, groceries and a long list of other essentials. Sending some money to a political campaign isn’t even a consideration. But with public financing programs like Democracy Dollars, everyone has the potential to be a donor. One of the most exciting results that came out of Seattle was that “Democracy Voucher donors better reflected Seattle’s population of young people, women, people of color, and less affluent residents.” [Citation: Every Voice Report]
- Public officials get to spend more time with the public. If every person eligible to vote is also a potential donors, that means candidates can spend less time sitting in a room calling wealthy people to ask for money and more time talking to everyday. In Seattle, that’s exactly what happened, “By diversifying and expanding the pool of people that candidates rely on to fund their races, candidates were able to spend more time talking to and seeking the support of everyday people in Seattle, including marginalized communities that are typically excluded from the political process.” [Citation: Every Voice Report]
- Increases faith in our democracy. The American public – including Texans – have trouble trusting their government because they see the impact of huge campaign contributions. One way to restore trust is to give candidates a way to get elected without having to rely on wealthy special interests.
- People Powered Elections: Public Financing of Campaigns // Report by Common Cause
- Equity Austin / Common Cause Texas advocacy website for Democracy Dollars
- Fault Lines Report / Report on campaign finance inequity by Common Cause Texas and Texans for Public Justice
- Public Funding for Electoral Campaigns: How 27 States, Counties, and Municipalities Empower Small Donors and Curb the Power of Big Money in Politics / Demos
- Overview of State Laws on Public Financing / National Council of State Legislatures