Gavel Grab

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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