Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Public campaign financing debated at Board of Realtors dinner

The hottest topic at last night's Litchfield County Board of Realtors and local Home Builders Association meeting with area legislators wasn't directly related to real estate or home building.
It came in a lengthy and sometimes-spirited question-and-answer period in which longtime master of ceremonies for the event, local Realtor TJ Zappulla, pointed out that funding for crucial programs such as a $220,000 tuberculosis screening program has been eliminated while Connecticut's new system of public financing for political campaigns will be giving up to $2.5 million to each candidate for governor this year who qualifies.
Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen) said he was kind of taken aback to receive a check for $85,000 to spend on his campaign. He ended up returning almost half of it to the taxpayers.
Rep. John Rigby (R-Colebrook) was most critical of public financing, saying that the $60 million used for the program should be returned to taxpayers, and that it was ridiculous to be spending taxpayer money on political campaigns when people are losing their homes.
Public financing was defended by the three Democrats in the room, Rep. Annie Hornish (D-Granby), Rep. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington) and Rep. Roberta Willis (D-Salisbury).
Willis said that public financing was first introduced in response to the many political scandals that led to Connecticut becoming known as a corrupt state.
Hornish and Cook suggested that the system could be tweaked, i.e., establishing lower spending thresholds and encouraging more candidates such as Roraback to return money, rather than scrapped altogether.

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