Tinkering with elections subsidies
Republican lawmakers are again proposing to ask voters to abolish the state's two-decade-old system of giving taxpayer subsidies to statewide candidates who abide by spending caps. A Senate committee voted along party lines Tuesday for the bill (SJR 566) by Sen. Mike Haridopolos, who dusted off the term "welfare for politicians" to describe public campaign financing, which cost $11 million in 2006.
Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club and Florida PIRG all defended public financing of elections as a way to make races more competitive, and they blamed the Legislature itself for raising the spending-cap limits in 2005 for driving up the cost of the program. But critics, led by Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, noted that President Obama refused to take public money and set an all-time record for campaign spending.
The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee also passed a bill (SB 536) by Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, that would switch to nonpartisan races for supervisors of elections. Five counties already elect their supervisors that way (Columbia, Leon, Palm Beach, Polk and Volusia), and Lee will join them in 2012.