Prop. 89

By Kathay Feng and Deborah Berger

The Register's concerns about Proposition 89, which would limit campaign contributions and provide some public funding of campaigns through a slight increase in the income tax on corporations and financial institutions, are ill-founded ["Good intentions, bad results," Editorials, Aug. 31].

Constitutional protections will be enhanced. The voices of regular Californians, now drowned out by the wealthiest contributors, will finally be heard. Without checks and balances on the excessive influence of special interests, public policy is skewed towards those who contribute the most money, thus undermining the republican form of government guaranteed by our Constitution.

Candidates from diverse backgrounds will be able to run and win, even if they are not wealthy or well-connected. Voters will have more choices in more competitive races. In Arizona and Maine, where this system is in place and working well, far more candidates are running for office, and incumbent re-election rates have declined.

A recent Public Policy Institute poll found that 66 percent of Californians believe the state is run by a few big interests, not for the benefit of all the people. As public faith in government dwindles, citizen participation has plummeted. In June, California experienced the lowest turnout for a primary election in more than 80 years.

Signs of the problem are everywhere. As voters stay home, the politicians in Sacramento have gone hog wild. In the final hours of the legislative session, 75 fundraisers were held across the street from the Capitol. By mid-September, more than $300 million had been donated to state political races. Politicians reward their biggest donors with tax breaks, pork-barrel projects and special-interest legislation.

Californians pay the price every day in rising gas, energy, cable, HMO and insurance rates, plus weakened air-, water- and food-safety laws, and inadequate funding for our schools.

Prop. 89 would sharply reduce the influence of special interests in Sacramento and level the playing field in our elections, providing what may be the last best opportunity to reverse these dangerous trends. Contributions to candidates from unions and corporations would be sharply limited. Qualified candidates who reject special-interest money would receive a set amount of public funds, freeing them from the influence of lobbyists and other special interests. Candidates who violate the rules would be fined, removed from office, or even jailed.

In short, the Capitol would be freed from the yoke of special interests.

See the article on Orange County Register website

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