Senate Democrats apparently did not learn their lesson last week when a series of robo-calls to competitive districts killed a proposal that would have imposed new fees on businesses to pay for the expansion of North Carolina’s public financing program for Council of State races. The program uses our tax dollars to fund political campaigns and is little more than an incumbent protection initiative.
Sponsored by Sen. Doug Berger (D-Franklin) and co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Atwater (D-Chatham), Ellie Kinnaird (D-Orange), Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), Martin Nesbitt (D-Buncombe), Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) and John Snow (D-Cherokee), SB20, entitled “Public Financing Changes,” would expand public financing to include the state treasurer’s race whereas the previous bill, the subject of the robo-calls, would have expanded the program to include a total of five more races. Furthermore, the bill would allow for the expansion of publicly funded municipal campaigns which are currently only allowed in Chapel Hill. Read here about Chapel Hill’s failed experiment with publicly funded campaigns and here about why public financing is a bad idea.
Philosophically, it should not fall under the purview of state legislators to decide whether municipalities may use the public finance campaign system. A federalist system of government is premised on the notion that the lowest level of government, able to competently decide and implement policy, should do so because the government closest to its citizens, the most local government, is the one most easily held accountable. However, the state has commandeered the authority to regulate whether municipalities may implement publicly financed elections. Thus municipal public financing must be thwarted at the state level. So too must public financing for all statewide races be avoided.