Colorado should lift its contribution limits to state candidates and political parties and provide a limited state income tax credit for those donations, according to a new report from the University of Denver.
Those are among 14 recommendations which emerged from the report compiled with input from a panel of academics, party officials and activists who were convened by the university to discuss an overhaul to the state's campaign finance system. Other changes include major donor reporting requirements, voluntary earmarking of contributions and that corporations, unions or other organizations making a political contribution with their own funds be required to disclose the names of the chief executive officer.
The report argues the changes could alleviate the pressure candidates have to fundraise and level the playing field between Super PACs, candidates and the parties.
"Future campaign finance reforms need to accommodate an environment where unlimited political contributions and spending are the dominant reality," the report states. "It is estimated that spending by outside organizations accounted for nearly 18 percent of all election-related expenditures in the 2012 election cycle, amounting to over $1 billion. This represented an increase of more than 400 percent over outside spending in the 2008 election cycle."
Colorado currently limits campaign contributions to $1,100 for gubernatorial candidates and $400 for state lawmakers.
"Only Alaska has lower contribution limits for statewide candidates, and only Montana has limits lower than Colorado’s for state legislative candidates," according to the report.