Have Voter Initiatives Paralyzed the California Budget?

15 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2003

See all articles by John G. Matsusaka

John G. Matsusaka

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business; USC Gould School of Law

Date Written: November 2003

Abstract

Many observers blame the California budget crisis on a series of voter initiatives that unrealistically appropriated spending while prohibiting tax increases. However, a review of all initiative measures approved by the voters since 1912 shows that no more than 32 percent of appropriations in the 2003-04 budget were locked in by initiatives. Virtually all of the earmarked spending was for education, and would have been appropriated by the legislature even without an initiative mandate. Initiatives placed only minimal constraints on the legislature's ability to raise revenue. The facts suggest that voter initiatives are not a significant obstacle to balancing the budget in California.

Suggested Citation

Matsusaka, John G., Have Voter Initiatives Paralyzed the California Budget? (November 2003). USC Law and Public Policy Research Paper No. 03-24. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=476443 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.476443

John G. Matsusaka (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

Department of Finance & Business Economics
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-6495 (Phone)
213-740-6650 (Fax)

USC Gould School of Law

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-6495 (Phone)

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