Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Clean Election’s Price Tag for Restoring Democracy

With our VOICE (Voter Owned Iowa Clean Elections bill: HF 805) on life support, struggling for it’s last gasp of clean air in a House Appropriations sub-committee, our newly elected Democratic Majority is making their priorities clear, and it appears “Clean Elections” may not be one of them. I hope Iowa’s 82nd General Assembly doesn’t intend to follow their predecessors’ mantra: “Now that we have the majority rule, let’s use our new powers to insure that we maintain it.”

From what I’ve gathered, the only barrier impeding VOICE’s move forward is funding. The price tag for creating a Clean Elections startup fund is $10 million (approximately less than .01% of our state’s annual budget). Rep. Dave Jacoby, one of the three members of the House Appropriation sub-committee who will decide upon VOICE’s fate, contends there’s not enough funding for this bill. There are funding mechanisms written in the bill that will help replenish the fund each election cycle; some of these include an optional income tax check off, private donations to the fund, seed money and qualifying fees collected by candidates who volunteer to participate, and a funding stream collected from unclaimed or abandoned property. The latter funding mechanism brings in an estimated $12 - $15 billion and would cover the entire fund. Jacoby pointed out this funding mechanism is allocated from the state’s general fund, which means something else would have to be cut. So the big question is how much of a priority is the Democratic majority willing to make Clean Elections?

This is the question all of us need to pursue with our representatives, the Democratic leaders, and the three members of the House Appropriations sub-committee. The bill hasn’t been scheduled on the docket as of yet, so there’s still time to contact all of the aforementioned people. We cannot afford for this bill to die in committee, so share your voice by urging VOICE forward. In the meantime, let’s take a brief commercial break, brought to you in part by Political Fallout, exposers of political absurdities and hypocrisies:

Can Iowa Afford Clean Elections? (VOICE Over)

Iowa Values Fund (Corporate Welfare): $10 million/year

Iowa Football Coach Kirk Ferentz’s Yearly Salary: $1.2 million (+$400,000 longevity bonus)

2006 Iowa Governor’s Race: $13 million

2006 Iowa House & Senate Race Disbursements: $16,639 million

Big Tobacco Ho’ Minority Leader Christopher Rants Big Tobacco Mo’: $60,000

Security Detail for Culver’s Children: $253,494

Clean Elections (VOICE): $10 million

Cost of e-mailing representative: $Zero

Restoring Faith in Democracy: $Priceless