A measure sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) to provide public matching for small political contributions was approved by the Illinois Senate today.

Biss said Senate Bill 1424, which would match contributions between $25 and $150 from local donors on a six-to-one basis, would help “restore the balance of power in government and ensure that average people – those who represent Main Street America and middle-class values, not Wall Street and the corporate class – have greater influence over the decisions that are made in Springfield and elsewhere.”

“Everyone who is frustrated today by the influence that corporations and billionaires wield over politicians and the policy decisions they make should support the concept of small donor matching,” Biss added.

The bill would also condition the matches on candidates agreeing not to accept contributions of more than $500 from a single donor and limits would be set on the total amount of public funds available to each candidate.

Under the legislation, the General Assembly could appropriate money to a special fund in the state treasury. The funds would be either $1 per Illinois resident or 1/20th of 1 percent of the state’s annual budget, whichever is greater.

David Melton, senior advisor to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which supports the legislation, said, “Everyone should have an opportunity to run for office and participate in the political process.”

Jay Young, political director with Common Cause Illinois, said, “During the last election, we watched campaign spending in this state spiral out of control with nine local statehouse races exceeding $2 million in contributions,” Young said. “Proposals like Senate Bill 1424 provide candidates with the option to break the cycle of chasing larger and larger checks.”

Biss added that Illinois can’t afford not to pursue small donor matching, particularly in light of the state budget stalemate and the harmful influence of the corporate class at the highest levels of state government.

In 2014, Illinois saw the highest percent of total contributions from large donors in the United States, with $108.8 million from just 21 donors. Fifty-one percent of total candidate contributions were from donors who gave over $1 million in that election cycle.

“This is a structural reform that everyone should be able to agree is good for Illinois and its future,” Biss said.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The Cost of Biss
    Has Biss ever purposed any legislation that doesn’t cost the taxpayers more money? I don’t think so. Biss would be worth keeping in office if he tried to save taxpayers a nickel or two. It is beginning to look like that will never will happen.

    1. You know what costs taxpayers

      You know what costs taxpayers money… huge subsidies and uncompetitive taxpayer giveaways to the Big Money interests who buy politicians by funding their election campaigns. That’s what.

      1. Agree

        I’m sure that happens for democrats, republicans, and independents but Biss has been forcing taxpayers to contribute to political campaigns. In this case, the little contribution is the biggest sin.

  2. How about a bill for fair redistricting, Mr. Biss?

    Why doesn’t Biss or any Democrat pass a bill for fair redistricting? Oh yeah, Democrats don’t want to lose their precious supermajority. In fact, Democrats sicced their legal eagles on the grassroots organizations that collected the petitions to put fair redistricting and term limits on the ballot and sued them.

    In 2014, Judge Mary Mikva, daughter of famed Democrat power broker Abner Mikva, ruled that a petition to put on the November ballot term limits and fair redistricting was unconstitutional.

    Last year, Democrat judges on the state Supreme Court blocked a proposal that would have asked voters to change the state constitution to take much of the politics out of the redrawing of state legislative boundaries.This despite the fact there were more than 560,000 signatures collected from the redistricting petition.

    Meanwhile, Biss authored a bill that would require more state spending in politics as if Illinois is rolling in the dough (It’s $4 billion in the hole).

    Illinois is a one party state and that party, the Democrats,  took away the small guys’ chance to make goverment more fair and work for them. In essence, Illinois Democrats in the legislature and the courts stripped away our chance to simply VOTE – democracy no more.

    I sure hope the fact that Democrats who denied voters a chance to decide on redisctricting and term limits becomes a major issue in the governor’s race. Republican Gov. Rauner, btw, has been pushing for fair redistricting and term limits but has been stopepd at every turn by the ruling party Democrats.

  3. Should be called ‘Pay for your incumbent’

    Who are they fooling. It is all the Democrats that want to be re-elected—and they get plenty of dollars already. If they really wanted to fix the system, donations would be prohibited for incumbents. Just another way to spend tax payer money for all their elections. Perhaps they miss the news on how much trouble the state’s finances are in—no they just want to fund more for politicians. As for railing against large corporations, it has not hurt Madigan—nor elected many Republicans or independents.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *