The Star-Ledger

New Group Pushing For More Publicly Funded Elections

The Star-Ledger — Monday, May 12, 2008

BY JOE DONOHUE / The Star-Ledger

Members of a new coalition today vowed to push for more publicly funded legislative elections next year despite the state's budget problems.

"Clean elections strengthen our democracy. It's good for our candidates and its good for the public,'' said Stephanie Harris, representative of Coalition for Peace Action, one of the coalition members.

The coalition, which held a statehouse press conference today, also includes New Jersey Citizen Action, BlueWaveNJ, AARP, New Jersey Tenants Organization, Sierra Club, Public Campaign and League of Women Voters.

Marilyn Carpinteyro, political director for New Jersey Citizen Action, said the group was encouraged by the success of a public funding pilot program during last year's elections. Sixteen of the 20 candidates running in legislative districts 14, 24 and 37 participated at a state cost of about $5 million. "The 2007 pilot demonstrated that clean elections can work in New Jersey, Carpinteyro said.

Gov. Jon Corzine's proposed budget, which is $500 million less than last year's spending plan, includes no money to subsidize any of next year's legislative campaigns. Coalition members said they realize the program may have to be phased in to ease the financial impact. But they insisted the tradeoff is worth, saying it will help curtail costly legislation and contracts that ultimately benefits special interests more than taxpayers. "We're really going to save money in the long run,'' said Marilyn Askin, lobbyist for AARP.

Copyright 2008 The Star-Ledger

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