HARTFORD — Connecticut Senators on Thursday voted to override Gov. M. Jodi Rell's veto of a state campaign finance reform bill.
The Democratic-controlled body voted 24-10 along party lines to re-pass the bill designed to fix legal problems with the state's campaign finance law, including the program that gives taxpayer dollars to political candidates.
The state House of Representatives, also controlled by Democrats, is scheduled to meet next Friday to consider the override.
"I urge that we readopt this bill because the idea of public financing in Connecticut is one of the things that we are all deservedly proud (of)," Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said Thursday.
The Republican governor vetoed the bill Monday and said she opposed a section that called for doubling the $3 million base grant amount given to gubernatorial candidates seeking state public campaign funds.
After the state senators voted to override her veto, Rell said she was not surprised by the result.
"It is my hope that the legislature, instead of using this opportunity to turn a reform measure into a political welfare program, will instead make the necessary changes and preserve the great improvements we achieved together in 2005," she said in a statement, referring to the year changes were first made to the campaign finance law.
Last month, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that parts of the campaign finance law, such as a ban on political contributions from lobbyists and a provision that provides extra funding or matching grants to candidates using the public financing system, were unconstitutional.
About $40 million has been budgeted for the program this year, which involves both legislative and statewide candidates. The money comes from unclaimed funds, such as old bank accounts, that revert to the state.
Advocates say the grant boost is needed because of the federal court ruling but opponents say those funds could be put to better use.
"In the face of a nearly $4 billion budget deficit, that $6 million should be spent to offset that deficit," said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney. "The fact that this money may be set aside, means that we have to spend it, speaks to exactly what is wrong with our government here in Connecticut."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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