Capitol Alert

More California cities can have publicly financed election campaigns

Sacramento residents cast their votes at the Luther Burbank High School precinct on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
Sacramento residents cast their votes at the Luther Burbank High School precinct on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Handing a victory to campaign finance reformers, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation that will allow more California cities and counties to permit publicly financed election campaigns.

Public financing offers an appealing alternative to the status quo for election critics who argue a flood of interest group dollars has corrupted the process. In publicly financed elections, qualified candidates receive public money instead of depending on private donations.

California has limited publicly financed elections for decades thanks to a 1988 ballot initiative. While the prohibition exempted charter cities, allowing Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco to offer some public election funding, non-charter cities remain barred.

That will change with Brown’s authorization of Senate Bill 1107, which permits local governments to set up publicly financed campaigns. Advocates said the bill would blunt the political influence of deep-pocketed donors with narrow agendas.

State election campaigns could also become publicly financed, although that would require followup legislation.

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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