Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Testimony on Assembly Bill 61

Assembly Committee on Elections and Constitutional Law

January 10, 2008

Thank you for holding this public hearing. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign strongly supports banning campaign fundraising during the state budget process, and with the addition of one amendment we support Assembly Bill 61.

According to the latest polling by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, 82% of Wisconsin residents say lobbying groups determine what’s in the state budget and what state government spends. Only 12% believe the voters do. This survey research finding screams out for reform.

AB 61 is not a significant campaign finance reform. But it is a meaningful budget reform. It should be passed and signed into law. But not before it is made into a true ban on fundraising during the budget process. Making it a true ban requires the addition of one amendment that applies the prohibition on fundraising to the four partisan legislative campaign committees.

The four legislative campaign committees – the State Senate Democratic Committee, Committee to Elect a Republican Senate, Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee – account for one-third of the campaign fundraising done by legislators during the budget process. Under AB 61 as it stands today, the fundraising ban during the budget process does not apply to these four committees.

We reiterate that AB 61 is a valuable reform of the state budget process, but it does not meaningfully reform campaign financing. We urge the committee to address campaign financing at the earliest possible time. In particular, we urge the committee to reschedule the cancelled public hearing on Assembly Bill 250 – originally planned for the week of Christmas – as soon as possible.

Thank you.