This article is the fourth installment in a series of recommendations currently being released on a weekly basis. Future weeks will detail how much the state can save by freezing corporate welfare handouts for a year and temporarily abstaining from buying land.
Voter-Owned Elections Fund Current Balance: $3.2 Million
As we continue our “Closing the Budget Gap” series, Civitas has identified a pot of money worth more than $3.2 million that is available to help fill the current budget hole.
With the 2007 passage of HB 1517, North Carolina established the “Voter-Owned Elections (VOE) Fund.” Essentially, the legislation diverted taxpayer dollars into a fund where monies were made available to finance the campaigns of Council of State candidates in the 2008 elections. The Council of State offices affected are: Auditor, Superintendent of Public Instruction and Commissioner of Insurance.
The Voter-Owned Elections Fund received appropriations in May, July and August of 2008 totaling nearly $4.6 million to be made available for the campaign season. Four candidates qualified and opted to finance their campaigns using VOE Fund money, but the balance of the fund nevertheless currently stands at $3.2 million.
Each Council of State candidate can opt to finance the majority of their campaign from the money available in the VOE Fund, with the requirement that they first raise a set amount of small dollar donations to demonstrate public support.
Rather than campaigns being supported by voluntary donations, taxpayer dollars end up paying for political campaigns. In the end, your tax dollars help finance campaigns of candidates you may otherwise never willingly support. It’s a form of legal coercion.
Given the current budget crisis, it makes no sense to allow $3.2 million in political welfare benefits for politicians sit idly in a fund for the next four years.
Given that Council of State offices will not see another campaign season until 2012, the $3.2 million currently available should be utilized to help fill North Carolina’s budget deficit.