Fiscal Institutional Externalities: The Negative Effects of Local Tax and Expenditure Limits on Municipal Budgetary Solvency
Public Budgeting and Finance. 38(3): 3-31 (2018)
33 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 4 Nov 2019
Date Written: 2018
This study explores the effects of state-imposed local tax and expenditure limits or TELs on the budgetary solvency of city governments in the US. Most local TELs were enacted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and have remained largely unchanged in the last three to four decades. These quasi-permanent fiscal institutions do not take into account changes in voters’ fiscal policy preferences across time or the possibility of external fiscal shocks that require flexibility in changing tax and spending policies. Without this flexibility, TELs can lead to poor financial management practices that negatively affect budgetary solvency. The empirical analysis produces strong evidence supporting this argument. Whether TELs are assumed to be exogenously or endogenously determined, the results of the econometric analysis, including various robustness tests, indicate that TELs weaken city budgetary solvency.
Keywords: Tax and Expenditure Limits, Fiscal Institutional Externalities, City Budgetary Solvency, Great Recession
JEL Classification: H7, H72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation