HARTFORD—Members of the state legislature should look wherever possible to save taxpayers money in this poor economy rather than funnel millions more into publicly-financed political campaigns, state Rep. Sean Williams said this week. Williams and his colleagues in the House of Representatives will convene Friday at the Capitol to consider a controversial, majority-authored plan to expand the already sizeable grants afforded to gubernatorial candidates participating in the Citizens Election Fund.
“We’ve got folks throughout this state who have been without jobs for months, good people who are struggling to manage basic household bills,” said Williams, who represents Watertown and Woodbury. “For them, the very real possibility of their government directing millions more in state money toward throw-away political trinkets and negative campaign commercials is a real slap in the face.”
The legislature convened July 31 to tweak sweeping campaign finance reform laws enacted in 2005—laws struck down recently in federal court. Court rulings declared the prohibition of lobbyist money unconstitutional as well as supplemental grants triggered through spending by a candidate’s opponent.
Among the solutions offered by super-majority Democrats was a provision increasing the grant for major-party gubernatorial candidates by $3 million to $6 million.
Democrats passed their plan—rejecting a viable Republican plan along the way—but couldn’t gain enough support within their party to trump a veto from Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Democrats in the state senate regrouped Aug. 5, voting to override Rell’s veto and sending the bill to the House once again.