St. Louis Public Radio News
11:02 am
Thu March 6, 2003

Ill. Lawmakers Consider Taxpayer-Funded Judicial Races

Springfield, Ill. – Taxpayers would be asked to pay for Illinois Supreme Court political campaigns under legislation approved Wednesday by a state Senate committee.

The measure would create a voluntary check-off system to let taxpayers donate. Candidates for the Supreme Court would get $750,000 to run their campaigns.

Checking the box on state income tax forms would raise tax bills. That's different than the system for funding presidential campaigns. The federal check-off doesn't cost taxpayers anything because the $3 is taken from the taxes already paid and simply shifted to the appropriate account.

Supporters of the Illinois proposal include the Campaign for Political Reform and the American Bar Association. They say it's needed to make sure political donors cannot influence decisions by judges.

The opposing view questions why taxpayers should have to foot the bill for political campaigns.

The legislation was approved unanimously by the Executive Committee and now goes to the full Senate. If it becomes law, taxpayers could see the check-off on income tax forms by November, 2004.