Amendment 1: Repeal of Public Financing Requirement
Should public money continue to fund Florida campaigns?
In 1987, the Florida Legislature established public financing for statewide campaigns, saying it was becoming too expensive to run for public office.
In 2010, the Legislature voted to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot asking voters whether or not they want to end the constitutional requirement for a public campaign financing system. Opponents call it “welfare for politicians.”
A “yes” vote for Amendment 1 would repeal the public financing requirement. A “no” vote would leave the system unchanged.
Although public financing originated in the Legislature, the voters made it part of the Florida Constitution in 1998. That’s why the Legislature can’t change it. They had to put the proposed amendment on the ballot instead.
Florida is one of 10 states that provide public financing to candidates running for governor. Nine states, including Florida, provide public financing for candidates seeking other statewide offices.
Since 1994, more than $27 million of public money has been spent on campaigns for governor and other statewide offices in Florida.
To receive public funds, a candidate must have opposition and must agree to spend no more than $2 per registered voter for the governor’s race and $1 per voter for Cabinet races. The limits for 2010 are $24.9 million for governor and $12.5 million for other Cabinet offices.
Compared to other states, Florida allows candidates to raise quite a bit more private money and still receive public money. However, Florida is much bigger than most other states and campaigns cost more here.
Gov. Charlie Crist spent more than $24 million for his 2006 campaign. That included $3.3 million of public money. Top Democrat Jim Davis collected more than $10 million, including $1.83 million of public funds.
To qualify for the taxpayers’ help, candidates must raise at least $150,000 for governor or $100,000 for Cabinet offices. Only contributions from Florida residents count. Candidates also must limit personal loans to $25,000 and contributions from political parties to $250,000.
If a candidate doesn’t take public money, his or her opponent can raise as much money as the non-participating candidate and still receive public funds. The money for public campaign financing comes from the state’s general fund.
Title on Ballot: Repeal of public campaign financing requirement
Official Summary: Proposing the repeal of the provision in the State Constitution that requires public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office who
agree to campaign spending limits
What it would do: Amendment 1 would end the constitutional requirement for taxpayer financing of political campaigns.
Arguments for: The state is experiencing tight financial times. It makes no sense to spend taxpayers’ money to subsidize campaigns when candidates can raise the money themselves.
Arguments against: The people voted overwhelmingly for the present public financing requirement 13 years ago. Public financing reduces the effect of money on politics and can open the door for candidates to run without big-money backers.