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J. Mijin Cha on January 31, 2008 - 9:55am
In the wake of a bitter 2004 Governor's election and state Supreme Court races that took in more money from third-party groups than any other high court campaign in the country, Washington State's House took the first step toward public financing by passing HB 1551. Introduced by Senator Joe McDermott, HB 1551 allows cities, counties, and other jurisdictions to provide local candidates with government financing. The bill only allows local taxes to be tapped for the public campaign accounts and the public funds cannot be used for campaigns for state offices or school boards.
As we highlighted before, public financing is essential to maintaining fair and equitable elections. Arizona and Maine have clean elections for all campaigns, North Carolina and New Mexico have clean elections for specific offices. New Jersey's pilot clean elections program successfully showed that candidates' focus on issues was greater in public funded districts than the rest of the states and 16 of 20 total candidates participated in public financing, including all nine of the winning candidates. The program is up for re-authorization with calls for expansion to full public financing. A complete public financing bill is also active in the Washington House. Introduced by Rep. Mark Miloscia, HB 1360 calls for public financing for state all offices.