Public funding for state candidates will democratize a flawed electoral system

fair_elections_md..pngTwo important bills in pursuit of Fair Elections had hearings last Friday (Feb. 20) – one, SB 613/HB1125, strengthening the existing public-financing provisions for the race for Governor and adding the state Attorney General and Controller to the program, and the second, HB1351/SB0947, sets up a Fair Elections public financing electoral process for members of the Assembly, in which small-donor contributions are matched with public funds. Progressive Maryland testified in favor of both bills last week.

Here is testimony in support of both bills before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee as delivered Friday, Feb. 20 by Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford.



 

Progressive Maryland is working to improve the flawed election process in Maryland and in its jurisdictions, where big money seems to talk all too loudly, drowning out the voices of working families and those of less means.

Two important bills in pursuit of Fair Elections had hearings last Friday (Feb. 20) – one, SB 613/HB1125, strengthening the existing public-financing provisions for the race for Governor and adding the state Attorney General and Controller to the program, and the second, HB1351/SB0947, sets up a Fair Elections public financing electoral process for members of the Assembly, in which small-donor contributions are matched with public funds. Progressive Maryland testified in favor of both bills last week. The Fair Election method is catching on in major counties and jurisdictions throughout the state either in place or pending an effective date after having been adopted in Baltimore City and Montgomery, Howard and Prince George’s counties.

Here is testimony in support of both bills before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee as delivered by Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford.

Testimony in Support of SB 947: Public Financing Act - State Senate and House of Delegates Candidates and Matching Fund Revisions

TO:    Sen. Pinsky, Chair, and members of the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee

FROM: Larry Stafford, Executive Director, Progressive Maryland

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on SB 947.

Progressive Maryland is a grassroots, nonprofit organization with 9 regional chapters from Frederick to the Lower Shore and more than 100,000 members and supporters who live in nearly every legislative district in the state. In addition, there are dozens of affiliated community, faith, and labor organizations across the state thatballot_box.jpg stand behind our work. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families in Maryland. Please note our strong support for this bill.

SB 947 would establish a public funding program for candidates for Maryland’s General Assembly. In order to qualify to participate in the program, a candidate must first demonstrate legitimate public support and the seriousness of their efforts to run for office by raising donations from everyday Maryland residents. Once the candidate qualifies, they will be eligible to receive a certain amount of matching funds through the program, with the maximum amount determined by the type of race the candidate is running in.

Publicly financed elections strengthen the voice of everyday voters by turning ordinary residents into major donors to a campaign, which incentivizes candidates to spend more time hearing from them and minimizes the impact of special interests on electoral and legislative outcomes. The program also benefits candidates and future legislators by allowing them the freedom to focus on interacting with their future constituents throughout their campaign feeling without forced to split their time between traditional fundraising and earning votes.

Montgomery County has a program currently in use by candidates for County Council and County Executive, which proved popular in the 2018 election cycle with both incumbents who formerly fundraised in the traditional manner as well as newcomers to the political arena.

Progressive Maryland believes that public funding is a win-win for voters and for candidates. We urge a favorable report on SB 947.


Testimony in Support of SB 613: Public Financing Act – Candidate and Matching Fund Revisions (Maryland Fair Elections Act)

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on SB 613.  Please note our strong support for this bill.

SB 613 would strengthen our state’s public financing program for gubernatorial elections by stabilizing its funding and modernizing it to look more like subsequently established county-level programs. It would also expand public financing to include Attorney General and Comptroller races.

us_money.jpgPublicly financed elections strengthen the voice of everyday voters by turning ordinary residents into major donors to a campaign, which incentivizes candidates to spend more time hearing from them and minimizes the impact of special interests on electoral and legislative outcomes. The program also benefits candidates and future legislators by allowing them the freedom to focus on interacting with their future constituents throughout their campaign feeling without forced to split their time between traditional fundraising and earning votes.

Montgomery County has a program currently in use by candidates for County Council and County Executive, which proved popular in the 2018 election cycle with both incumbents who formerly fundraised in the traditional manner as well as newcomers to the political arena. Since the Montgomery County program has been so successful, we believe that updating the gubernatorial program to include a similar tiered-match system will make the program more attractive to both candidates and grassroots donors.

Progressive Maryland believes that public funding is a win-win for voters and for candidates. We urge a favorable report on SB 613.