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(Rockville) - The Montgomery County Council held public hearings this week on the proposed FY16 budget. Concerned citizens testified at each hearing, calling on the County Council to put $2 million into the budget to fund fair elections (Public Election Fund).
The Government Operations committee had the first chance to heed their concerns at its work session Thursday morning. The committee ultimately recommended adding $2 million into the reconciliation budget to support this critical program.
“Montgomery County made history by unanimously passing Bill 16-14, creating the first program in Maryland for small-donor fair elections,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. “We praise the action that the GO committee took today. They expressed strong support for this critical program, and backed up their words with strong action. Now the full Council must vote to uphold that decision and include the funding in their final budget recommendations.”
“With strong community backing, the County Council created this program. The community has been clear at these public hearings; they are counting on the Council now to follow through and fund it – or the program will not be effective,” said Kate Planco Waybright, executive director of Progressive Maryland.
“Montgomery Country residents are counting on the County Council to make this investment in our local democracy,” said Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr. “It is critically important to get the program started with a strong first installment of funding in the coming fiscal year.”
“Voluntary small donor matching systems put every-day people, not big money, at the center of our elections and make it possible for candidates to run a competitive race without accepting large contributions. They also increase participation in local government,” said Public Campaign President and CEO Nick Nyhart. “Montgomery County created a strong program for Fair Elections. But it is an empty promise without strong funding.”
Final Council recommendations are expected in mid-May.
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