"The arms race for money that drives our campaigns threatens the concept of one person, one vote."
NCVCE Legislative Agenda
2010 Legislative Agenda
The NC General Assembly is considering several campaign reform proposals that seek to improve confidence in state government and respond to the potential for massive new spending by corporations. For this package of reforms to produce a long-term and meaningful improvement in the state political process, it should include an expansion of the state’s Voter-Owned Elections programs, which offer realistic, citizen-funded alternatives to the campaign money chase. These systems match citizens' small donations with public money, replacing politicians' (bad) dependency on special interests with a (good) dependency on voters.
With two Voter-Owned Elections expansion bills alive for the short session, the NC General Assembly has a great opportunity to invest further in these innovative campaign financing systems. By passing these bills—or including versions of them in a larger reform package—state leaders would make a significant dent in the ability of special interests and corporations to skew elections and help restore voter confidence in state government.
1. The General Assembly should create a permanent, funded, and expanded Council of State program. Candidates running for offices like the State Treasurer, Commissioner of Labor, and Commissioner of Agriculture should not have to rely on campaign financing from the groups or industries these offices do business with or directly regulate. Legislation approved by and introduced in the NC Senate (SB-20 andSB-966, respectively provide good blueprints for what a meaningful Council of State initiative would look like. Both bills expand the program beyond the three offices included in the 2008 pilot and assess small user fees on regulated industries to cover the program’s costs.
2. The General Assembly should authorize additional municipalities to create local public financing programs. Many cities and towns across the state have expressed interest in creating local Voter-Owned Elections programs, after seeing the benefit and success of Chapel Hill's first-run with local public campaign financing in 2009. The cities of Raleigh, Wilmington, Greenville, Durham, Winston-Salem, Asheville and the town of Cary have all passed resolutions asking thestate to give them authority to establish Voter-Owned Elections programs for their own local elections. Legislation approved in 2009 by the NC House (HB-120) provides a good blueprint for this initiative. The bill authorizes municipalities with more than 50,000 residents to create local programs and establishes strict criteria for how these programs should be designed and administered.