A legislative proposal at the Capitol would provide full public financing of campaigns for state office. The bill would provide full funding for candidates who agree to run a "clean" campaign. State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison), a sponsor of the measure, says it's intended to change the power structure of the state. He says that instead of special interest money driving campaigns, the public would be the focus.
Candidates would have to collect a certain number of $5 contributions from the district they're running in to qualify. After that, Pocan says they'd receive funding based on the office they're running for. Those numbers range from up to $2 million for a candidate for governor to $50,000 for a candidate for the State Assembly.
If the current version were passed, taxpayers could expect an annual cost of $12 million dollars from general state funds. However, Mike McCabe with the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says the current system of special interest money results in tax breaks and pork projects that costs taxpayers millions of dollars more each year.
Similar legislation has been introduced in past sessions, but failed. Pocan says the recently passed ethics reform bill shows the time may be right for this to pass.
The proposal is based on public financing systems used by Maine and Arizona.