PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

February 6, 2007

Public Financing testimony

Filed under: 4Public Financing,HI Politics,SHAPES platform — rachel @ 9:09 am

Here we go for round 7?, 9?… I am not quite sure how many rounds there have been, but it is somewhere around there. The “clean elections/voter owned elections” bill (HB661) that would allow for comprehensive public funding of House races is being heard today by the House Judiciary committee at 2pm!! Well it is actually last on the agenda, so probably not right at 2. The testimony I submitted on behalf of PDH is copied below… let’s hope a lot of people submitted their own too.

To: Rep Tommy Waters, Chair; Rep Blake Oshiro, Vice Chair; Members of the House Judiciary Committee (JUD)

From: Rachel S. Orange on behalf of the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii

Date: Monday, February 5 2007

Subject: Strong Support of HB 661 – Comprehensive Public Funding
House Bill 661
Tuesday, February 6, at 2:00 PM
Conference Room 325, Hawaii State Capitol

Aloha Chair Waters, Vice Chair Oshiro, and Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

I am writing on behalf of the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii in strong support of House Bill 661, Comprehensive Public Funding of elections for House races. Our organization considers comprehensive public financing of elections one of its top five issues. Voter turnout in the last election was only 52.7%, which can be interpreted as a signal that the electorate is largely apathetic perhaps because they feel that their voice does not count. Meanwhile the cost of running a winning campaign continues to soar, forcing candidates to spend much of their time soliciting corporate contributions. Comprehensive public financing of campaigns would free candidates to re-connect with the voters in their district.

I support the Clean Elections program most of all because it will build trust between constituents and legislators. I’m one of the 86% of Hawaii’s residents that a 2005 AARP survey found believe that contributions moderately or greatly influence policies supported by legislators. By eliminating the need to solicit contributions from industry and their lobbyists, voters will be more confident that their legislators are listening to the people rather than the monied interests. This could also save taxpayer money by reducing the temptation for legislators to give in to the influence of industry lobbyists who are looking for pay back.

Comprehensive public financing has been demonstrated to work in Maine, Arizona and North Carolina where publicly financed candidates won 205 state offices in 2006. When Arizona enacted comprehensive public financing in 2000 voter turn out increased by 24% (1998 to 2002) while the percent of all races won by candidates with the most money went from 79% in 1998 down to 2% in 2000.

In summary, comprehensive public financing increases voter turnout while decreasing the cost of campaigns. It will reinvigorate elections and connect constituents to legislators in a real way. It will save taxpayer money and build trust. Since the current public financing bill (HB661) is seeking money from the Unclaimed Property Fund, there is no danger of having to cut other programs in order to implement the program. Please give it a chance to work.

Mahalo for considering this legislation,
Rachel S. Orange,
Co-Chair of the Progressive Democrats of Hawaii

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