Initiative Provides Public Financing, Contribution Limits for All
Californians for Clean Elections
A public financing initiative based on systems already in place in Arizona, Maine, Connecticut, Portland, Or. and Albuquerque, N.M. has qualified the November, 2006 ballot in California.
This initiative is intended to enable elected leaders to focus on the wishes and needs of all its citizens rather than their campaign contributors, and to ensure that elections are about the candidates’ ideas and not about the amount of money they raise.
The California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act establishes a system of public financing for candidates who reject private money and sets tougher limits on contributions from corporations, unions and private individuals. It also closes some current campaign finance loopholes and strives to reduce the influence of professional lobbyists. It contains strong enforcement provisions as well. It qualified for the ballot with the signatures of 620,000 Californians in a petition drive sponsored by the California Nurses Association.
Although the initiative has only qualified today, it already has the support of the non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, the California Clean Money Campaign, and Public Campaign.
Bipartisan clean elections laws now in place in the other states and cities have increased voter participation, made elections more competitive, inspired greater diversity of candidates, and reduced the influence of professional lobbyists.
Major provisions of the initiative include:
– Public funding for candidates who agree not to take private money for their campaigns. To qualify for the funds, candidates must meet certain eligibility requirements including collecting a set number of $5 contributions. Initial grants and matching funds allow “clean” candidates to compete equally with privately funded candidates.
– Contribution limits that apply across the board to corporations, unions, and individuals: no more than $500 per election cycle to individual legislative candidates, $1,000 for statewide offices, and $1,000 to so-called independent expenditure committees.
– Aggregate total limits of $15,000 per year per donor to all candidates and committees that seek to influence the election of candidates.
– A ban on contributions to candidates by lobbyists and state contractors.
– Limits on contributions to ballot measures. Corporate treasuries will only be able to spend $10,000. Additional contributions from both unions and corporations on initiatives must be made through political action committees.
– Extensive public disclosure requirements.
– Strong enforcement provisions, including removing those who cheat the system from office.
– Funding will not come from individual taxpayers or the state’s general fund. It will come through an increase in the corporate tax of 20 cents for every $100 of profit or 0.2%. This would restore the corporate tax rate to a figure lower than it was from 1980 to 1996.
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