Ending Taxpayer-Funded Collection of Campaign Contributions


SB 166 restores integrity to an unfair system by stopping government from collecting and distributing campaign contributions.

  • Under current law, state and local governments (including school districts) take campaign contributions out of workers’ paychecks and send the funds directly to government union leaders. This is a misuse of taxpayer resources. No other organization benefits from this unfair privilege.
  • The House State Government Committee recently advanced SB 166, which restores integrity to an unfair system by stopping taxpayer-funded collection and distribution of campaign contributions for any entity.
  • Under SB 166, government cannot collect “political contributions” which would include:
    • Donations to Political Committees (PACs) to influence an election;
    • Campaign contributions given directly to a candidate.
  • The House State Government Committee also advanced HB 1174, which prohibits the taxpayer-funded collection and distribution of PAC contributions and SuperPAC contributions, also known as independent expenditure committees. Public safety unions, such as police, are exempt.


Examples of political contributions that could no longer be funneled through the taxpayer-supported payroll process include:

  • Collections for government union PACs. The 14 largest state government union PACs have spent over $35 million since 2007.
  • Campaign contributions, such as most of the $3.4 million in government union campaign contributions to Tom Wolf in 2014 and the $3.7 million given directly to 2016 legislative candidates.   

A Good Government Reform

  • The status quo is unethical.
    • Using public funds to collect government unions’ campaign money mixes election politics with taxpayer resources, which is an unethical privilege that no other political entity enjoys.
    • It is a crime for elected officials to use one dollar of public resources for politics. The same principle should apply to government unions.
  • Voters support ending the use of public resources for political purposes.
    • A vast majority of voters—even a majority of union households—believe it is wrong to use public resources to collect campaign contributions and union dues.
      • The polling reveals bipartisan support, with 75 percent of Republican households and 59 percent of Democratic households supporting paycheck protection.
      • Additional polling reveals that 80 percent of union households believe taxpayer money should not be used to collect campaign contributions.
  • Collecting campaign money corrupts the negotiation process.
    • Elected officials negotiate with local and state unions to collect dues and PAC contributions via public payroll systems. This increases the potential for corruption, as union executives make campaign contributions to the very officials they negotiate with.

Other States Have Enacted Similar Reforms

  • Government union contracts should not mandate an unethical practice that is illegal in many other states. After other states implemented similar laws protecting public resources, union members gained a greater voice in whether or not to support union politics.
  • These bills most closely resembles the reforms enacted in Idaho and Utah which prohibited government collection of funds used for political activity. In 2009, a federal court upheld these laws in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association. The judges ruled the law “does not restrict political speech, but rather declines to promote that speech by allowing public employee check-offs for political activities.”