Milking the State Budget

In this update: 1. $2 million in campaign donations raised during state budget process 2. Interest groups spend $3 million on lobbying in first half of 2007 3. Updated campaign finance profiles of state officials now available Milking the State Budget

Email date: 8/13/07

In this update:
1. $2 million in campaign donations raised during state budget process
2. Interest groups spend $3 million on lobbying in first half of 2007
3. Updated campaign finance profiles of state officials now available

A new state budget was supposed to be finished by June 30, but state lawmakers are still nowhere close to putting the finishing touches on one. They’ve been too busy shaking down special interests who have a stake in budget decisions for campaign donations. Campaign fundraisers have far outnumbered budget negotiation meetings. The budget has proven to be a most useful campaign fundraising tool, as state legislators and the governor raised more than $2 million in the first half of the year, a Democracy Campaign report released today shows.

The resulting appearance that the budget is being auctioned to the highest bidder is why Assembly Bill 61 banning campaign fundraising during the budget process is needed in the worst way.

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While waiting (and waiting . . . and waiting) for a budget agreement to materialize, interest groups not only have been making campaign donation after campaign donation. They’ve also been paying a lot of $200-an-hour lobbyists to keep a watchful eye on every move the elected officials make. In fact, they rang up a bill exceeding $3 million for lobbying expenses in the first six months of the year, most of it spent by just a handful of the wealthiest interest groups.

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We’ve posted newly updated campaign finance profiles for all state legislators who were elected in 2006 on our Web site. Updated profiles also are provided for the 2006 campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.