Referendum To Eliminate Clean Elections Funding Advances

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Bethany Barnes of Arizona-Sonora News Service brings us the latest on the effort to eliminate funding for Clean Elections:

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A bill that would ask voters if they want to defund Clean Elections in favor of education barely passed out of the House Thursday with a 31-27 vote.

Republicans and Democrats argue that HCR 2026 is designed to deceive voters.

“Clean Elections was not voted at a time where it was tied to education funding,” said Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman. “I believe that’s kind of a playbook out of the dirty playbook of sleazy political tricks.”

The bill’s sponsor, Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, said that for him, tying the two together made logical sense because he is passionate about education funding and doesn’t think public money should go to politicians.

Goodale, who chairs the House Education committee, also took issue with throwing money into the “black hole of education.” She said she would rather see the money targeted at something specific.

When the bill went through the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, the committee’s chair, said he didn’t understand what was wrong with asking voters if they want to redirect money during tough economic times.

“When we take it to voters and its in a vacuum we have the other side of the problem, which is we have limited resources and now we are saying, ‘Do you want Clean Elections?’ and we’re not going to consider what the rest of the budget is,” Farnsworth said.

Those on both sides of the bill argued that the issue is about trusting voters.

Rep. Bob Thorpe, R-Flagstaff, said he voted for the bill even though he has depended on Clean Elections and hopes to do so again.

Thorpe said he isn’t afraid of what voters want.

Rep. Martin Quezada, R-Phoenix, asked if lawmakers are afraid of simply asking voters if they still want Clean Elections. He questioned why education should go on the ballot.

While Goodale argued that liking Clean Elections is irrelevant, for several members, personal feelings about the program seemed to be a determining factor (with Rep. Phil Lovas, R-Peoria, joking that he’s the only Republican to ever quote from the Phoenix New Times on the House floor as he read from an article about abuse of the program).

Rep. Carl Seel, R-Phoenix, who has always run using Clean Elections voted for the bill, noting that during his campaign he said he would work to get rid of the program.

Rep. Jonathan Larkin, R-Glendale, said he voted against the bill because as a blue-collar worker (Larkin is an assistant produce manager at Fry’s Food Stores) campaigning traditionally was extremely difficult.

“I found out very quickly how much of an impact it can have on your finances and personally I don’t know how I did it financially,” Larkin said.

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