Chair Rhoads, Vice Chair Har, members of the Committee:
The League supports SB381 SD2 as part of our mission of promoting a healthy democracy through fair and free elections.
Full voluntary public funding of election campaigns allows candidates (including incumbents!) to focus on the needs of their districts and the people of Hawai`i, rather than the narrow interests of private donors. The recent pilot of full voluntary public funding in Hawaii County Council races has been successful in allowing 5 of 9 Council members to be elected without spending time and energy chasing dollars. The public can trust that these successful candidates will devote themselves to the public good.
The League of Women Voters has worked over the years for the passage of the Big Island comprehensive candidate funding project. Both candidates and voters view the program very favorably. However, there has been one problem, the lack of equitable funding for all nine districts. We have heard considerable criticism of the present funding formula. Moreover, candidates themselves have voiced objections. The Hawai`i County League of Women Voters conducted an informal follow-up study of the 2012 pilot program. All candidates who qualified for public funding were interviewed. Without exception, they said that funding should be the same for every district.
HB381 ensures equal funding. It also cleans up some language and details as requested by the Campaign Spending Commission. Please support the bill.
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony.