Legislature creates path to end public campaign finance

campaign finance
Ready for a referendum?

Taxpayers may not have to support political candidates much longer, raising questions about whether running for office statewide going forward will be a rich person’s game exclusively if that’s what voters want.

The House passed without debate two pieces of legislation already approved by the Senate that would end public campaign finance provisions instituted nearly four decades before.

Sen. Travis Hutson’s measure (SJR 1114) was passed by an 82-29 vote.

It will, if signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, let voters this year decide in a referendum whether they want to end the provision that has been in effect since the Legislature passed it in 1986 — an era in which Florida and its campaign finance looked very different from the way they do today in some ways, but nonetheless saw some dynamics familiar to people of today.

“The Legislature finds that the costs of running an effective campaign for statewide office have reached a level which tends to discourage persons from becoming candidates and to limit the persons who run for such office to those who are independently wealthy, who are supported by political committees representing special interests which are able to generate substantial campaign contributions, or who must appeal to special interest groups for campaign contributions,” reads the language currently in statute.

The money at stake is not insignificant. Roughly $13 million was spent in 2022 and $10 million in 2018 on subsidizing candidates. DeSantis, who will have to sign off on this bill in the end, drew down more than $7 million in his re-election effort.

The House also passed by an 83-29 vote Hutson’s SB 1116, which is an implementing bill for the amendment if passed that would repeal sections relevant to the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act on the effective date of the amendment.

The implications of the legislative decision and the likelihood of this being on the ballot later this year earned comment from Common Cause Florida, which noted that the “resolution goes against the will of Florida voters, who have already affirmed their support for the Public Campaign Financing System on two separate occasions, in 1998 and 2010.”

“Legislators have ignored the voices of Floridians by making voters return to the ballot box for a third time on this. Common Cause Florida is committed to educating Florida voters about this anti-democratic bill and ensuring that our democracy works for everyone, not just a select few,” the group added.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


6 comments

  • rick whitaker's

    March 6, 2024 at 2:11 pm

    do blue states subsidize the wealthy candidates?

  • PeterH

    March 6, 2024 at 2:16 pm

    Can individual States mandate how elections and candidates are supported??
    Hasn’t this campaign finance been previously adjudicated by SCOTUS?

  • Daniel C

    March 6, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    For joint resolutions they do not require the Governor’s signature, they are enrolled and signed by the officers of both chambers then submitted to the Secretary of State for certification to be added to the designated election.

  • Enshrining Cronyism and closing out everyone else

    March 6, 2024 at 4:49 pm

    If they really wanted to fix the waste while also ensuring candidates from diverse backgrounds can run, they could set caps for instance on net worth, level of grass roots contributions, petitions for office, any number of factors. Instead they just want to close the lanes so that only wealthy cronies and generational genetic mishaps can run and continue to run, bought and paid for by specific lobby interest. VOTE NO on this referendum. It’s garbage. Cronyism at its finest.

  • MH/Duuuval

    March 6, 2024 at 10:07 pm

    Too bad the rich and powerful were able to exploit the concept, which was to give financial underdogs a chance.

  • Andy

    March 7, 2024 at 1:08 pm

    Yes, why have ‘public finance’ of campaigns to ensure accountability and transparency. It’s easier to use ‘Dark Money’. the ever growing out of control lobbyists who have stripped control of citizens to allow control of contributors as the main driver of laws and governing. Let’s not forget that every Florida citizen pays, without ‘freedom’, the highest insurance premiums in the nation to fund lobbyists and campaigns, and none of us have the ‘freedom’ to opt out of the portion of those astronomical premiums, that are used for political donations, lobbying, and contributions. Freedom is just another ‘woke’ word in Florida!

Comments are closed.


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