Monday, November 28, 2005

Campaign Finance Reform Deal Reached

Vote Expected This Week

At last. Few details yet.

The General Assembly's Democratic leaders said today they will vote this week on a compromise plan to reform Connecticut's campaign finance laws.
...
The legislation is expected to create a voluntary, public financing system for state candidates, ban contributions from lobbyists and state contractors and place limits on political action committee contributions.

The reforms would not likely take place until after the 2006 elections. (AP)

I'll let you know when I find out the details of the deal. I have to assume that they finally found the votes to pass it, whatever it is. I hope it's worth the wait.

Source
"Democrats Plan To Vote This Week On Campaign Reform." Associated Press 28 November, 2005.

13 comments:

Brass Tacks said...

By "compromise," I'm guessing that SHOULD mean between the Democratic leaders and the Governor, right?? Or do they mean they compromised with themselves behind closed doors?? IF so, how's that a compromise? (My folks always told me that if you compromise with yourself too much that you'll go blind. Hope that's not the case here.)

Should be Must-See-CTN!

Aldon Hynes said...

<sarcasm>
I've heard that the bill would restrict nonprofit contractors that provide state services from contributing to campaigns and that Rell is going to veto the bill.
</sarcasm>

MikeCT said...

The Clean Up Connecticut campaign is urging people to call Rell and ask her to sign the bill when it arrives on her desk: 800-406-1527 (during the day). E-mail (calls are better): Governor.Rell@po.state.ct.us. It couldn't hurt to also call or e-mail your legislator (see Clean Up CT site).

The House will be in session on Wednesday at 1:00. Here is a more recent AP article. This is very hopeful! Let's keep up the momentum!

Also, you can see the campaign's new TV ad in Windows Media or Real Media formats. The news conference has been airing on CT-N.

MikeCT said...

Also the CT News Junkie site has an outline of some of the bill's provisions.

Anonymous said...

Public financing in NY and NJ has yielded Bloomberg, Corzine and Forrester

Perhaps that it an improvement over the alternative, but the effect has been to limit executive office to those of 8,9 or 10 digit net worth

Brass Tacks said...

Just saw the press conferences on CTN. It WAS must-see, especially the comments made AFTER the speeches were made by Williams, Amann, and House leader Ward.

Notes from today's Newsers:

"The time to vote is now... yeah, right now... " [the Dems/reformers ALL took good stage direction and all said it. LG Sullivan even swung for the fences with his 'Just do it' quote.] What they didn't say was "quickly, before anybody gets a chance to see the bill and AFTER we get the headlines on our sweeping reform... uh... press release." (Can you see Thomas Jefferson issuing his Press Release of Independence!?!?)

They also ALL said, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." The rank-and-file legislators haven't even seen the bill yet.

The cost: $20 million that now goes into the general fund from unclaimed property will be diverted to pay for their campaigns. Okay, who wants to give up their $20 million?

Third party candidates (since this is all about opening up the electoral process) are screwed.

Effective date: December 2006. Unless they change the election day, that means the effective date is 2008!

Amann: "This is a compromise." [Between House and Senate Democrats]

Williams: "This is NOT a compromise." [Take it or leave it, folks.]

PACs humana: A dozen leadership PACs blessed by this bill, and individual legislators can still have theirs, too, according to ctnewsjunkie.com and the press conf. Whew!

Untouched by this reform: Spending on polling, consultants, mailings, paid poll-standers and doorknockers, and other "in-kind" (very kind, indeed) contributions that unions make. (I'm not anti-union, but this is embarassing, folks. They actually DID limit this stuff from party and leadership PACs, it appears, which is huge. Let's treat all (businesses, too) the same.

The lobbyist ban will not survive judicial muster, but the reformers gave the courts until 08 to restore the lobby money, so there'll be plenty of time to give. {Whew!}

This dog won't hunt, folks, but it will pass. And probably become law.

One final question: Although this outlaws lobbyist contributions to candidates, I hope it still allows candidate contributions to lobbyists, otherwise CCAG's Tom Swan is going to be out the $3,000 he took in from one House Dem's campaign in the '04 cycle according to a legislative report. Let's hope so. [sarcasm]

Kirk out.

Anonymous said...

Aldon-

I realize that your comments are born in sarcasm, but you may have disqualified yourself from being a reasonable individual if you actually believe that it is good public policy to require private non-profits to pay their employees the same wage/benefit package as a state employee would make to do the same job.

Governor Rell's commitment to contracting reform is evidenced by the fact that she wants the bill back on her desk without that ridiculous provision that would cripple non-profits. The labor-entrenched Democrats' lack of commitment to the bill is evidenced by the fact that they don't seem to have much intention of doing so.

The only saving grace is that she has the ability implement contracting reform by executive order (and has the courage to do so).

Aldon Hynes said...

Anonymous(7:31): Let's try to stay away from ad hominem attacks and have a reasoned discussion.

I would encourage you to read Kelly Kennedy's blog post about Contract Reform. It is the best analysis of the contract reform bill I've seen so far.

For example, she writes, "According to the analysis, the bill would allow state agencies to privatize services when certain conditions are met - one being a cost-benefit analysis."

I have not read the bill, or the analysis, but I think Kelly is right in observing, "(Which begs the question: you mean we don't do cost/benefit analyses now?) If we don’t conduct cost/benefit analyses, when Rell touts the 'committed and effective corps of non-profit and private providers' that operate in a 'professional and highly cost-efficient manner', how does she know this be true?"

I do hope that Rell implements meaningful contracting reform by executive order. I hope it includese cost-benefit analysis, such as the bill provides for.

Aldon Hynes said...

Back to the campaign finance reform bill, I haven't gotten a chance to read this yet either. However, I think anonymous(12:37) raises a good question about the effectiveness of other states' campaign finance reforms.

I think it is an important question to look at how effective the campaign finance reform has been. Based on the examples of Bloomberg, Corzine and Forrester, there is a good argument that they haven't been that effective for the executive office.

Yet this begs the question about what we mean by 'effective'. What are the goals of campaign finance reform?

If the goal is to elect leaders that are harder to buy off, then we might consider NY and NJ successes. With all the money that Bloomberg has, a hot tub is not likely to swing his position on issues or contracts.

Yet it seems as if there is a bigger issue. To me, an important goal of any sort of campaign reforms is to promote political involvement.

I doubt you are going to get many people that haven't run for office before to run for Governor. I'm not even sure if that would be a good idea.

However, as has been seen in states that have enacted public financing of elections, it has encourage new people to get involved in races further down the ticket. These are the future Gubernatorial candidates.

I think both Democrats and Republicans would be better off if they had more people fighting for the State Rep seats. Will public financing of elections bring this about? That, in my mind is the big question.

Related to that is the issue of public financing of municipal elections. This is another area where we need to get more people involved. Does anyone know if public financing of municipal elections is part of the deal?

Anonymous said...

Aldon-

You are absolutely correct that the state should do a cost-benefit analysis before privatizing state services, as well as your belief that we should have standards in contracting.

That's why back in June the Governor implemented all of the key parts of the bill by Executive Order.

As far as Kelly's argument, she states:

"While state employees may have slightly better health care benefits than private sector employees, state employees do not receive the perks that so many private sector employees do, in the form of annual bonuses, profit sharing options, stock options, employer matching contributions to 401ks, company cars, paid business dinners, in-house medical facilities, in-house fitness facilities, healthy worksites, or even up-to-date equipment and resources on par with the private sector."

First of all, I would say it is quite a stretch to believe that most private sector employees receive even one or two of these extra perks and I would be interested to see where she gets her information on that.

Secondly, its mighty tough to argue from one side of your mouth that quality, private sector jobs are leaving the state because of Governor Rell's economic policies and then to argue from the other side that the average private sector employee received all of these perks. The perks that she lists more likely describe the average top-level executive than the average private sector employee.

Very little, if any, of her argument is born in any fact whatsoever.

I could go on and on about this but I would just as soon hope that the information above satisfies any confusion you might have about the contracting standards bill.

Aldon Hynes said...

Anonymous(1:15)

Various points: First, if Rell's executive order is so good, why did the Democrats believe they needed something stronger? (An open honest question. I haven't had time to compare closely Rell's Executive Order with the bill.)

I can imagine that there might be some concern that the State Contracting Standards Board which she has ordered is appointed solely by the Governor and serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

(Note, in a later executive order, on Nov 16th, she changed it so that the four principal leaders of the General Assembly can recommend four members to serve along side the five that she appoints.)

In a brief scan of the executive order, I find no reference to cost/benefits analysis. The verbiage about "Best value selection" seems to come closest but still seems a far way off.

(The revised executive order, appears to be even further from any provisions on cost benefit analysis.)

As to perks:

Perhaps my experiences working with financial services firms in Fairfield county are an exception and I would love to see some real data other than your set of anecdotes compared to mine, however...

In companies that I've worked for, some of the perks you describe are fairly common for all employees. As an example, matching 401(k) contributions are pretty common in most firms that I know of where an employee has been with the firm for longer than a set period of time, typically a year. Profit sharing for all employees is fairly common for the larger firms I've worked for. Likewise, bonuses, at least in the financial services industry are common for almost all employees.

In house medical is pretty common for larger companies and places that I've worked that have had in house fitness have made it available to all employees.

So, I seriously question your assertions. Beyond that I am curious in what you believe the relationship between employee perks and companies leaving the state are.

The only one that I can think of is around the issue of transportation. Many companies offer transportation perks to promote ride sharing and the use of mass transit, and many executives complain about the poor condition of Connecticut's transportation infrastructure, which is part of the reason they offer these perks.

Anonymous said...

Aldon

If you read the 2nd Executive Order and the bill, you will see that they pretty much accomplish the same thing except for the ridiculous wage/benefit issue. Hope this clears up the confusion.

Aldon Hynes said...

I guess I'm not sure that it does accomplish the same thing. An Executive Order, which I assume the Governor, or any future governor can simply rescind in which the board serves at the pleasure Governor isn't really the same thing as the bill which was passed by the legislature.

One of the reasons for contracting reform, I thought, was to bring about better checks and balances, and somehow, it doesn't seem as if an executive order really does that.