Voting Booth, Source: TFP File Photo

Vote Sought On Campaign Matching Funds In Florida

Voting Booth, Source: TFP File Photo
Voting Booth, Source: TFP File Photo. By NSF

Florida voters would be asked to do away with a matching-funds program that has dished out more than $33 million since 2010 to statewide political candidates, under a proposal filed Thursday for the 2024 legislative session.

The measure (SJR 1114), filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, would place on the November 2024 ballot a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the matching-funds program.

Under the program, statewide candidates can receive matches for individual contributions of $250 or less. Long disparaged by critics as welfare for politicians, the program was approved by voters in 1998 in a constitutional amendment put forward by the Constitution Revision Commission.

The program was intended to reduce the influence of big-money contributors by helping underfunded candidates compete in costly statewide elections.

Lawmakers placed a repeal proposal on the 2010 ballot, but the measure failed when it gained 52.5 percent of the vote, short of the required 60 percent for approval. Lawmakers have made subsequent attempts to repeal the program, but the proposals have not made it through the Legislature.

In 2022, the program provided just over $13 million to seven candidates. Gov. Ron DeSantis received $7.3 million in matching funds for his re-election effort. Democrat Charlie Crist picked up $3.89 million in his unsuccessful challenge to DeSantis.

Candidates drew $9.85 million in matching funds in 2018, $4.3 million in 2014 and $6.06 million in 2010. Matching funds are not available for contributions to political committees or outside of statewide races. The 2024 legislative session will start Jan. 9.

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