New Mexico Legislature Approves Update to Public Financing

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez will be asked to sign legislation passed unanimously by the state House of Representatives to update a voluntary system of public financing for elections of appellate court judges.

The measure received state Senate approval earlier. The legislation was drafted in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, from 2011. The high court struck down a provision in Arizona’s law that furnished extra taxpayer dollars to participating candidates when privately funded foes or independent groups spent more. It was called a “trigger funds” provision.

In New Mexico, the legislation would set up a small donor matching system. Under it, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, candidates who participate would get an initial public financing grant and after that receive a 4-1 match for donations of up to $100.

The Brennan Center said it applauded a bipartisan fix for the problem of designing a public financing program “that protects scarce public resources while offering enough funding to allow publicly financed candidates to effectively compete against non-participating candidates.”

“If Gov. Martinez signs S.16 into law, New Mexico will be a trailblazer in strengthening its public financing proposal after the Supreme Court struck down trigger provisions in Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar in a statement.

Both the Brennan Center and Common Cause are JAS partner groups.


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