A Message from the
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Offices on the 1998
The 1998 Ballot Questions:
of State Legislators
Public Campaign Financing
VOTE WILL DO
Tax Rate on Interest
and Dividend Income
Electric Utility Industry
for Ballot Questions...
William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth
One Ashburton Place, Room 1705
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone: (617) 727-2828
Toll-free: 1-800-462-VOTE (in Massachusetts only)
Fax: (617) 742-3238
VOTE WILL DO
A YES VOTE would change the laws
governing public financing of campaigns.
A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing public
financing of campaigns.
(As required by law,
summaries are written by the state Attorney General, and the
= statements describing the effect of a "yes" or "no"
vote are written jointly by the State Attorney General and the
Secretary of the Commonwealth.)
This proposed law would create a new
voluntary system allowing candidates for state office who agree
to campaign spending limits and $100 contribution limits to receive
a set amount of public funds for their campaigns, starting with
the 2002 election. The proposed law would also limit transfers
of money from national political parties to state political parties
for administrative, overhead, or party-building activities. It
would also require candidates for state office who had raised
or spent at least a set minimum amount in an election cycle to
file their required campaign finance reports with the state electronically,
and the public would have prompt electronic access to such reports.
The new funding system would replace the existing system of limited
public financing of campaigns for statewide office. To participate
in the new system, a candidate would have to raise a minimum
number of contributions from registered voters in the relevant
district, as follows: Governor, 6000; Lt. Governor, Attorney
General, or Treasurer, 3000; Secretary of State or Auditor, 2000;
Executive Councillor, 400; State Senator, 450; State Representative,
200. Such contributions would have to be between $5 and $100
and be collected during a limited period: for statewide candidates
beginning on August 1 of the year before the election, for other
candidates beginning on January 1 of the election year, and for
all candidates ending on the last day to file nomination papers
with the Secretary of State.
For any election, a participating candidate could not accept
contributions of more than $100 from any person or political
committee and could not raise or spend any money other than these
contributions and public funds.
Candidates meeting all of these requirements would, subject to
appropriation by the Legislature, receive public funding in the
primary and general elections. This would come from a new state
Clean Elections Fund, consisting of amounts voluntarily contributed
through the checkoff on the state income tax return, any amounts
appropriated by the Legislature, and any money in the existing
state election campaign fund.
The chart below shows the amounts of public funds a candidate
could receive in the primary and general elections. A candidate
could raise and spend private contributions in order to bring
his or her spending up to the spending limit shown below.
|Attorney General or Treasurer
|Secretary of State or Auditor
A participating candidate running unopposed would receive only
half the listed amount of public funds and could spend correspondingly
less than a candidate with an opponent. All funds could be spent
only for campaign purposes. Any unspent public funds from a primary
or general election would have to be returned after that election.
A participating candidate who violated the contribution or spending
limits would have to return all public funds, become ineligible
for further funds, and in some cases pay fines.
Candidates who do not accept public funds would have to report
any spending in excess of the limit shown above and could be
fined for failing to do so. If such a non-participating candidate
spent more than the limit, participating candidates in that race
would immediately receive, and could spend, public "matching
funds" equal to the amount of the excess spending. The total
amount of public funding (including matching funds) a candidate
could receive would be limited to twice the spending limit for
that race. During the general election campaign, running mates
for Governor and Lt. Governor would be treated as teams in order
to determine the distribution of any matching funds.
An individual or political committee's total in-kind contributions
(such as goods and some services) to a participating candidate
would be limited to $500 per election. Higher limits would govern
political parties' in-kind contributions. Participating candidates
could not accept more than a set amount in such contributions,
ranging from $3,000 per election for Representative up to $35,000
The expenditure, contribution, and public funding limits would
be adjusted every two years for inflation. A special commission
(including elected officials and private citizens) would be set
up to meet every two years to review the system and recommend
any needed changes. The state Director of Campaign Finance could
issue regulations to interpret and enforce the proposed law.
The proposed law states that if any of its parts were declared
invalid, the rest of the law would stay in effect.
(As provided by law,
the 150-word arguments are written by proponents and opponents
of each question, and reflect their opinions. The Commonwealth
of Massachusetts does not endorse these arguments, and
does not certify the truth or accuracy of any statement made
in these arguments. The names of the individuals and organizations
who wrote each argument, and any written comments by others about
each argument, are on file in the Office of the Secretary of
IN FAVOR: We all know what's wrong:
Wealthy special interests have too much political influence.
Campaigns cost too much money. Politicians spend too much time
raising money instead of listening to voters. And good people
can't afford to run for office.
A Yes vote on Question 2 reduces the influence of big money in
Massachusetts politics. It sets strict limits on campaign spending
and contributions, and levels the playing field for all candidates.
And it bans "soft money."
Despite misrepresentations by opponents of reform, this law strictly
limits any public election financing to less than one-tenth of
one percent of the state budget.
Endorsed by the League of Women Voters and Mass Voters for Clean
Elections, it's the best way to clean up politics in Massachusetts
and send a strong message to Washington, too.
If we want campaign finance reform now, it's up to us. Vote Yes
on Question 2.
AGAINST: This petition would take taxpayer
dollars and spend those dollars on private political campaigns.
It would give public money to all political candidates for the
purpose of purchasing campaign materials. The proposal would
take millions of dollars from education, health care, child care,
and public safety.
Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for the career ambitions
of every political candidate in Massachusetts. It would be far
preferable to let each candidate raise and publicly report their
own campaign funds. Taxpayer dollars should be limited to essential
public activities and projects.
This petition would eliminate the freedom of taxpayers to donate
to candidates of their choice and compel a contribution of public
monies for every announced candidate. The petition is fundamentally
flawed in its claim of priority for the use of public funds.
It will be very expensive and it is entirely unnecessary. It
should be rejected.
is no Minority Report for this ballot question)
A majority of the Joint Committee on
Ways and Means emphatically rejects this petition. This initiative
will cause an enormous increase in taxpayer dollars being spent
on private political campaigns. Although regulation of campaign
finance is an important goal, a majority of the Joint Committee
believes that there are more effective methods and that there
are far more important uses of limited public money.
Massachusetts is a national leader in campaign finance reform
and in 1994 the Massachusetts Legislature passed the progressive
reforms that are law today. Under our current law, candidates
for state office must fully disclose all campaign finances, the
size of individual contributions is strictly limited, and candidates
for several offices can choose to accept spending limits in exchange
for limited public financing. This petition will dramatically
increase the costs to the public. Even fringe candidates would
be able to lay claim to taxpayers' money to support the costs
of their campaigns. The supporters of this petition estimate
the increase at $45 million dollars - five times what we pay
today. Our policy is to support effective reforms that do not
place additional or disproportionate burdens on taxpayers.
The current system allows Massachusetts taxpayers to voluntarily
contribute to the Clean Elections Fund by checking a $1 donation
box on their state tax form. In 1997, only 1 in 10 taxpayers
elected to contribute to the fund which currently stands at less
than $2 million dollars. If the supporters of this bill are correct,
the legislature will have to spend approximately $56 million
dollars in taxpayers' money to pay for private political campaigns
in 1998. As legislators, we have two choices: vote to increase
taxes or take away funding from other meaningful programs such
as education, childcare, affordable housing, public safety, and
healthcare. We are uncomfortable with either choice. For these
reasons, the majority of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means
rejects the initiative.
Robert E. Travaglini
Charles E. Shannon
James P. Jajuga
Edward J. Clancy, Jr.
Robert A. Antonioni
Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr.
Mark C. Montigny
Bruce E. Tarr
J. Michael Ruane
Anthony M. Scibelli
Anthony P. Giglio
Bradley H. Jones, Jr.
Emanuel G. Serra
Brian S. Dempsey
Vincent P. Ciampa
Thomas P. Kennedy
John A. Lepper
Paul R. Haley
Harriett L. Stanley
William C. Galvin
John J. Binienda
Louis L. Kafka
Robert F. Fennell
Shaun P. Kelly
Jo Ann Sprague
FULL TEXT OF THIS BALLOT QUESTION