Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dille to introduce bill to discontinue PCR program

From an op-ed by Senator Dille in the McLeod County Chronicle.
I will introduce a bill to discontinue the Political Contributions Refund (PCR) Program this session, saving Minnesota approximately $12 million during the next biennium.

This program reimburses Minnesota citizens up to $50 per year who donate to political candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, auditor, attorney general, secretary of state, state senator or state house of representatives. This reimbursement is also available for donations made to the Republican, DFL, Independent or Green Party.

This is the way it works: a Minnesota citizen sends $50 to a party or candidate. A receipt and special form are sent to the donor who fills out the form and sends both to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. In four to eight weeks, the donor receives a $50 check from the taxpayers of Minnesota.

This program was established in 1990 and also set campaign spending and donation limits. The goal was to decrease the influence of special interests.

Some believe campaigns should be funded entirely with public money. So far, no other state has established a similar program.

Minnesota is facing at least a $5 billion deficit in the biennium beginning July 1. Our state constitution requires a balanced budget. To accomplish this, many programs must end or be cut back.

This is one that should end. It is one $12 million step on the long road we will travel this session to balance the state's $35 billion biennial budget.

I'm not sure that I support this cut, but I suppose we should have everything open for a closer examination.

Cutting this program would ensure that career politicians are able to keep their "career" as a legislator. Senator Dille is an honorable man, but I'm not 100% certain that this cut will make things better. Incumbents are already tough enough to defeat.

For the most part, money in the Legislative races is pretty clean. We have limits on spending and individual contribution limits to level the playing field. The PCR program feeds off of this. Cutting the PCR program could taint the political contribution process in Minnesota.

That's not a good thing...

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