Cutting the Legislature

Brian O’Neill of the Post-Gazette attempts to make the case that Pennsylvania should reduce the number of state legislators. His reasoning – we should be like the other big states. The question he doesn’t answer is: why?

Of the states Mr. O’Neill lists as big states (all of whom have more residents per lawmaker than Pennsylvania), only two – Florida and Texas – are states Pennsylvania should look to as models of effective government. Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan are similar to Pennsylvania in their tax burdens and regulatory environment – and likewise in their lack of population and economic growth, while California and New York are among the highest taxed and most regulated states in the nation. These are hardly models of effective legislatures.

In our study on legislative size, we looked at the outcomes of state policy we are most concerned with – lower government spending, lower tax burdens, and greater economic freedom. None of these were affected much by state legislative size. However, there are several other reforms that would have a meaningful effect on the process and outcomes of public policy.