The legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee recently approved SB 455 which effectively removes a cap on the state’s public financing of election campaigns. This does not change the maximum grant each candidate can receive; it simply permits the diversion of general funds used to pay for other state programs.
Connecticut’s Citizens Election Program (CEP) is a voluntary program providing grants to candidates running for the state legislature and statewide offices (governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer, comptroller, and attorney general) who meet certain qualifications.
The Citizen’s Election Fund—which pays for the CEP—is resourced with proceeds from abandoned properties in the state. If the fund starts to run dry during the election campaign, grants to candidates must be reduced proportionately.
Under SB 455, however, the fund can be replenished during an election year if it drops below CEP’s statutory requirements—meaning that grants to candidates won’t have to be trimmed.
Using state tax dollars to subsidize election campaigns takes the funding and focus away from Connecticut’s other priorities.
The existing public financing system, which requires grants to be reduced in the event of a funding shortfall, is a preferable method to manage the CEP fund.