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Arizona legislators target campaign funding program again

PHOENIX -- Some Arizona legislators again will be trying to put a bull's-eye on Clean Elections, the voter-approved state program that provides funding for candidates for state offices.

Rep. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, plans to reintroduce a proposal to gut the program by asking voters to sweep all of the program's money into K-12 schools, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

Meanwhile, Rep. J.D. Mesnard said he wants to introduce a resolution for a ballot measure on repealing the program outright. However, the Chandler Republican said he'll go only so far if program opponents promise support for a campaign aimed at persuading voters to go along.

"Anything that I throw out there and refer to the ballot, I would not let it get all the way to the end of the process unless there was some agreement or some idea that there's going to be a campaign that's going to be run in favor of it," Mesnard said.

Boyer tried a similar proposal last year. The House approved but it never came up for a vote by the 30-member Senate because it lacked a required 16th vote for passage, Boyer said.

Boyer said things may be different in 2014 because a recently appointed senator may provide the 16th vote.

"In principle, I think that most conservatives don't support publicly funded elections," Boyer said. "I got it out of the House. It was razor-thin in the Senate."

Boyer said it may be better if he and Mesnard can agree to push only one proposal.

"I'd really like to visit with him and see if we can just do one, because obviously I don't want voters to be confused on having both," Boyer said.

Tom Collins, executive director of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, said the commission will try to fend off efforts to de-fund or eliminate the system.

Collins declined to predict the outcome, but he said the program remains popular with voters.

"I don't think it would be worth anybody's time in this environment to put a Clean Elections issue on the ballot," Collins said.

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