Thursday, April 28, 2005

Dousing Fire With Gas - Florida Legislature Ups Spending Limit for Public Financing

this is an audio post - click to play

As Sean Mussenden and John Kennedy report in The Orlando Sentinel, the Florida House approved a bill that would triple the spending limits for candidates for governor and the Florida cabinet who accept public financing. The House passage requires the Senate to take up the measure, which raises the spending limit from $6.7 million to $20 million.

Florida's public financing law allows candidates for governor and the cabinet to receive a dollar-for-dollar match for individual donations up to $250 from Floridians. The current law allows a candidate to receive up to $3.35 million in matching funds. The proposed change would up that to more than $10 million.

Proponents, including Governor Jeb Bush (who won re-election in 2002 with $10.4 million), have argued that the escalating costs for television ads necessitate the increase. The change would just be gas on that fire, exerting intense upward pressure on media prices, allowing television stations to make out like bandits and wealthy interests to strengthen their hold on Florida politics.

Public financing exists to provide an incentive to candidates not to spend millions of dollars so that the rest of us can compete with wealthy interests that bankroll candidates with positions they like. Apparently, the Florida House and Governor oppose that competition.

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