There are always a few bad ideas on Albuquerque ballots. One of the worst ideas to come along in a long time is the mis-named “Democracy Dollars” proposal. The proposal (you can read the TWO questions here) which is on City ballots this fall would profoundly alter the way City elections are funded by pouring millions (MORE) of our tax dollars into political campaigns.
The proposal is supposed to work like this:
- The amount given to candidates for Mayor and Council will rise from $1.00 to $1.75 per voter. This is bad, but it’s just the beginning of the latest raid on your tax dollars at City Hall. The really bad news, is next;
- IN ADDITION to more money for public financing, RESIDENTS of Albuquerque (whatever that means) would be given $25 vouchers that they could in turn give to candidates to help them fund their campaigns.
This is where the problems really crop up for Democracy Dollars. For starters, the “dollars” are NOT in the hands of voters but rather thrown at “residents.” And there are no parameters, limits or definition of “resident” in the proposal.
How long does one have to live here to become a resident?
Do you have to be a legal citizen of the United States?
Are children eligible?
Are felons eligible?
Also, where does the money come from? In the ballot summary for both measures big government advocates have added to the question the erroneous and misleading statement: “This will not increase the tax rate.” If adopted the proposal could cost $15 million per election. Where is this money coming from? It may not DIRECTLY AND IMMEDIATELY increase taxes, but the City gets its money from one place, your pockets.
Finally, in practice, Democracy Dollars will actually destroy, not enhance democracy. What WILL happen is that well-funded “grassroots” organizations—the same ones pushing this big government, big tax waste — will harvest large numbers of these vouchers in support of their preferred candidates. After all, candidates are not going to hit the ground running with the money and grassroots support to collect large numbers of these vouchers. They’ll need someone and that will be the vast array of predominantly left-wing groups working in Albuquerque.
So, if you want to empower the well-funded “community organizers” to help politicians use our money to run negative campaign ads on TV and radio, then Democracy Dollars is a brilliant idea.