A taskforce created to explore the public financing of Illinois political campaigns has split opinions on the matter. The Campaign Finance Reform Task Force must submit a recommendation to the governor by the end of the year. So far it seems members are weighing the cost to taxpayers versus the benefit of less corporate influence.
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Rupert Borgsmiller, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, won’t say whether he thinks the state can afford the system. “I think that’s the overriding question,” he says. “We don’t take a position on something like that. If they pass it and they fund it, then we’ll implement.” Lawmakers passed a public financing system in the 1980’s, but was vetoed by then Gov. Jim Thompson, who essentially asked lawmakers if they’d rather pay for political campaigns or state services. The task force’s draft report estimates public financing could cost the state $75 million to $100 million per election cycle, which would be paid for through increased court fees, fines and other means. Borgsmiller says Illinois might not need such a system – as newly passed campaign finance rules haven’t yet been put to use.