Voters May Reconsider Public Funding Of Elections

Mar 8, 2013

The state House voted this week to ask voters to reconsider whether they want public funding of elections. But Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports they're doing it in a way some do not consider fair.

The 1998 voter-approved law allows candidates for statewide and legislative office to get public funding for their campaigns if they agree not to take private dollars. It is funded largely by a surcharge on civil, criminal and traffic fines. What was approved yesterday would put a measure on the 2014 ballot not to repeal the program but instead to give the money raised to education.

Representative Paul Boyer is the architect of the plan. He said, "all I'm asking is for the voters to decide if they prefer public money for politicians or if they prefer education funding."

Representative Doris Goodale said she would have no problem with putting the Citizens Clean Elections Act back on the ballot next year and asking voters, straight out, whether they still want to keep it. But she said that's not what's happening here. "Clean Elections was not voted at a time where it was tied to education funding," Goodale said. "I believe that's kind of a playbook out of the dirty playbook of sleazy political tricks. And I just have a problem when we send something to the public and then we tied it to education in an obvious sway of the voting public."

But Goodale was only one of a handful of Republicans who sided with Democrats in opposing the move. The measure now needs Senate approval.