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    City of New Haven First in Line to Become Pilot Campaign Finance Reform City

    (3/10/2006) The City of New Haven is taking the next step in becoming the first Connecticut city to publicly finance local campaigns. The City today is making formal application to the Municipal Public Financing Pilot Program of the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) to be designated a pilot City. The City also has proposed an allocation of $200,000 in the fiscal year 2006-07 city budget to fund the effort.

    In December, the Connecticut General Assembly passed the campaign finance legislation that included a provision for which New Haven has been advocating the past three years that would allow up to three municipalities in this state to take part in a pilot program for public financing of campaigns for locally elected positions. New Haven is the first City to officially apply.

    “This is an idea whose time has come,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “New Haven has been advocating for a change in the way we finance local elections. By becoming the first pilot City, New Haven is sending a powerful message to the rest of the state that we want to be the state’s leader in clean, fair and open elections.”

    The election reform effort has been championed by members of the “Democracy Fund Coalition” – including Aldermen Elizabeth Addonizio, Joseph Jolly and Carl Goldfield. New Haven has the necessary pre-requisites in place to qualify as a pilot, including support of its legislative body through a Board of Aldermen resolution endorsing the effort approved in 2005, and proposed funding in the upcoming budget. The City is proposing $200,000 per year. Candidates would receive a one time block grant of $15,000 and 2-1 matching funds for the first $25 of each campaign contribution raised. To qualify, candidates must receive public support, by collecting 200 contributions or at least $25 and not more than $300, from residents. Each individual contribution could not be more than $300 and total expenditures would be capped at $200,000 for primary and another $200,000 for general election. The cost to New Haven taxpayers would be approximately a dollar and a half per citizen (about the price of a cup of coffee), or $200,000 per year – coming out of the general fund. –END-

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