No, it isn't perfect.
From early reports, the campaign finance reform compromise bill due to be voted on by the General Assembly this Wednesday has plenty of flaws. It sets high thresholds (the amount required to get public funding), is soft on unions, makes it nearly impossible for third parties to compete and doesn't go into effect until 2008.
It should be passed anyway.
Let's face it: we weren't going to get a perfect bill. Incumbent Democrats are wedded to special interest, contractor and lobbyist money, and they rightly fear that a public funding system will benefit the opposition. There was also a fear that a lot of public money would be spent on "vanity" candidates, or third-party candidates who would gather less than 10% of the vote.
It's a start, though. Let's get a system in place now. Let's put these moderate reforms in place, so that we have something to build on later. Imperfect campaign finance reform is better than no reform at all.
A historical precedent does exist for this situation. In 1959, the state abolished the anachronistic county governments and town courts at the behest of then-Governor Abraham Ribicoff. Democrats were loathe to give up the courts and the county governments because of the plum patronage positions that would be lost (county commissioners were appointed by the legislature, meaning that the majority got to appoint their friends). A compromise allowing sheriffs to remain in place was made. It wasn't a great compromise, but the deal was struck and counties disappeared. If they had waited for the perfect bill, nothing would have been done.
That's the problem facing us today. If we wait for the perfect bill, nothing will be done. In 2008 we will have a system that is far better than what most states operate under, and future legislatures will have the opportunity to improve it further. This is the best the Democrats are going to offer. Let's not miss this historic chance while we have it.
Here are some stories worth reading about campaign finance reform in today's news:
Pazniokas, Mark. "Closing In On Election Reform." Hartford Courant 29 November, 2005.
Hldaky, Gregory. " GOP questions Dems’ finance reform plan." Bristol Press 29 November, 2005.
Levine, Dan. "Once More Unto the Breach." CT News Junkie 29 November, 2005.