VotingBoothsAn effort to bring small donor matching to Illinois elections advanced out of a key Senate committee Wednesday.

That’s good news for most Illinoisans, whose voices are drowned out by corporate interests and wealthy political donors, said Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), the sponsor of Senate Bill 1424, the Small Donor Democracy Matching System for Fair Elections Act.

“I don’t buy the argument that Illinois can’t afford to do this. Illinois can’t afford not to do this,” Biss said. “When you look at how we got into the mess we’re in today, it’s largely because of a series of poor decisions and policies that were influenced by billionaires and corporations to benefit a very few people.

“Restoring the balance of power in government would ensure average people have greater influence over the decisions that are made in Springfield and would improve our future.”

Senate Bill 1424 would establish a small donor matching system for statewide races in Illinois, including governor, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, state senators and state representatives. The system empowers average people to compete financially and ideologically with special interests and wealthy donors. It also opens up the playing field to more diverse candidates for office and offers more options at the ballot box.

Senate Bill 1424 would weaken the influence the money in Illinois elections by doing the following:

  • Contributions between $25 and $150 from local donors would be matched 6:1 by public funds.
  • Limits would be set on the amount of public funds available to each candidate.
  • Candidates would not be able to accept contributions of more than $500 from a single donor.

The cost of the program is estimated at $1 per Illinois resident annually, according to The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which supports the proposal.

“The people I represent tell me they’re tired of big-money donors drowning them out in Springfield and in Washington, and they don’t know what they can do to be heard,” Biss said. “Small donor matching amplifies ordinary voices, helps elected officials do a better job, leads to more diverse elected officials and restores the balance of power in government. It makes sense in every way.”

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