Once again, the Maine Legislature is on track to shortchange the Maine Clean Election Fund.

Despite a double-digit win for the Clean Elections initiative in November, Maine voters are still waiting for full funding of the robust Clean Election system they desire.

Lawmakers have a challenging job. They must balance many competing priorities and determine appropriate levels of funding for vital programs that are consistent with available resources.

It is heart-wrenching to hear the testimony of families who will bear the brunt of program cuts. I can understand why some might want to push funding for political campaigns to the end of the line.

But if this state does not do everything possible to separate private money from those who hold our highest offices, then the priorities in Augusta will never fully align with those of our people.

Maine voters have twice initiated successful statewide referendum campaigns to do just that. It’s clear that Mainers want a viable Clean Election system that allows qualified candidates to run for office without first going on bended knee to political donors.

They want their representatives to serve their interest, the public interest, and not that of the wealthy, the well-connected and their highly paid lobbyists.

Fully funding Clean Elections means restoring funds that were raided last year and used for unrelated state programs. It amounts to a tiny fraction of the current surplus. It won’t break the bank, but it will show Maine voters that their voices were heard.

Alison Smith

Portland


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