Senate Democrats’ bill “not real reform,” the governor told

Governor M. Jodi Rell said she would veto a campaign finance reform bill which will likely be debated tonight in the state Senate.Rell made her statement just past 10 p.m. this evening, as she walked to her limousine outside the Capitol building. We asked the governor how she felt about the Senate bill, which would not institute full public financing of campaigns until 2010.“Why don’t we just make it 2025?” she said. “The bill is not acceptable. It is not real reform.“The governor went on to say that she supports the reform bill that may be presented to the House later tonight. When asked whether she would veto the Senate version, should it ever make it to her desk, Rell answered “yes.“The two bills are the result of a breakdown in negotiations yesterday between House and Senate leaders. The House bill implements public financing in time for the 2008 election cycle, but bans all lobbyist contributions and adbooks immediately. The Senate version does much the same, but most of its changes start in the 2010 election cycle.Many Democrats- both in the House and in the Senate- expressed concern today over the House bill. They believe taking away traditional funding sources like ad books in 2006, without implementing public financing until 2008, could leave them at a serious disadvantage against Republicans.Multiple Democratic senators indicated they had the votes in their caucus to pass the Senate version tonight. The same could not be said in the House, where staffers were still counting votes this evening. If a majority of Democratic caucus members do not support the House bill, Speaker James Amann said he would not run it.Another potential problem for the House version lies in the way it is financed. Because the plan would use surplus dollars, some members wondered whether the bill would need three-fifths of the chamber to sign off. If so, that would mean supporters would have to garner 91 votes instead of 76, a much more difficult task. It is unclear what Rell’s veto promise means for the fate of campaign finance reform this year. Senate Democrats had hoped that by passing their bill tonight, Amann would be under severe pressure to call their version of reform either later tonight, or tomorrow. Because Rell will veto that bill anyway, Amann will not face the same pressure.