Florida Legislature Votes to End Public Campaign Finance Provisions

In a significant turn of events, taxpayers might soon be relieved of their obligation to fund political candidates. This development raises critical questions, including whether future statewide political races will become exclusive to wealthier individuals if voters decide to take this route.

Legislation to End Public Campaign Finance

Recently, the House passed two pieces of legislation, previously approved by the Senate, aimed at discontinuing public campaign finance provisions that have been in place for nearly four decades. The measure, known as SJR 1114, was ushered through by an 82-29 vote. Introduced by Senator Travis Hutson, this bill could mean substantial changes in the political landscape.

If Governor Ron DeSantis signs off on this bill, voters will have the opportunity to express their stance on this matter through a referendum this year. They will decide whether they wish to discard a provision that has been in play since the Legislature passed it in 1986. This was a time when Florida’s campaign finance scenario looked starkly different from today’s, but some dynamics still resonate with the present times.

Potential Impact on Statewide Office Candidates

The existing language in the statute expresses concern about the escalating costs of running a successful campaign for a statewide office. These rising costs are believed to discourage potential candidates and limit those who run for office to individuals who are independently wealthy or backed by political committees or special interest groups capable of generating substantial campaign contributions.

The financial implications are far from trivial. In 2022, approximately $13 million was spent on subsidizing candidates, and in 2018 the figure was close to $10 million. Governor DeSantis, who will have the final say on this bill, drew more than $7 million for his re-election campaign.

The Future of the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act

The House also passed Hutson’s SB 1116 by an 83-29 vote. This bill serves as an implementing tool for the amendment if it is passed. It would repeal sections relevant to the Florida Election Campaign Financing Act on the effective date of the amendment.

In conclusion, the proposed changes to the public campaign finance provisions could reshape the political landscape significantly. The financial implications are substantial, and the potential impact on the diversity of candidates vying for statewide offices is a point of concern. Voters will have a crucial role to play in deciding the future trajectory of political campaign financing in the state.

About The Author

Scroll to Top