As a newcomer to state politics, I could tell you many stories about the things that go on under the dome, but let’s just say that it would be easy for even the most optimistic person to lose a bit of faith in our political process.

That is why Question 1 on this November’s ballot is so appealing to people who don’t tune into the nuts and bolts of Maine politics every day. If you’ve heard anything at all about Question 1, you’ve probably heard that it will increase transparency in government, put special interests and lobbyists at arm’s length, and get money out of the process.

While all of these things sound good, Question 1 also triples the amount of money candidates who receive public financing can spend on their elections. Qualifying House candidates will receive $15,000 instead of the $5,000 or so that they get now. Senate candidates will go from $20,000 to a whopping $60,000, and those running for governor will be entitled to millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

The truth is, many candidates who choose to use the Maine Clean Elections Program to finance their campaigns do not even spend all the money they are given now and wind up returning thousands of dollars. So why would we triple that amount of money?

Some of you may support public financing. Others may not. We all ought to agree that increasing the amount candidates can spend on ads, brochures, fliers, robo-calls, signs and other campaign stuff will only ramp up the amount of campaigning that people do. It will mean an increase in annoying, late-night calls, junk mail that many of us just throw away, and angry, frustrated voters who are even more turned off by political process.

As legislators, we get paid a salary of $14,000 or so the first year of session and $9,000 the second year. I am not complaining about this salary, as we pride ourselves on being a citizen Legislature, but I find it funny that we’re going to give candidates more money to run for office than we’ll actually give them when they get there.

I’m not suggesting we increase legislator pay. In fact, more than 130 of us voted against just such a move this past session. But turning around and giving people so much money to campaign just sets the stage for a massive pay raise in the Legislature — a raise voters have told us time and again they don’t want.

Voting in favor of Question 1 won’t get money out of politics; it will put more in. It will drive up the cost of running our state when we should be spending that money on creating jobs, investing in our roads, our nursing homes, our broadband infrastructure, helping people get ahead.

We should all agree — Democrat, Republican, independent — that it should not be spent on politicians. I urge you to vote No on Question 1.

Rep. Brad Farrin, R-Norridgewock, is a first-term legislator representing House District 111 (Norridgewock, Solon, and part of Madison).

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