Are Freshmen Lawmakers Bad for State Legislatures?

Limited Government Highlight

Governing magazine looks at the disadvantages to term limits, focusing on the constant turnover in state legislatures. Recognizing the inexperience of lawmakers, states like Michigan and California are setting up boot camps and mentoring programs to ensure it doesn’t take years to understand the legislative process.

The inconveniences of term limits is a small price to pay for the absence of entrenched lawmakers that make careers out of political service and forge deep alliances with special interest groups—preventing principled and fiscally responsible decision making.

A Commonwealth Foundation analysis shows a strong connection between legislative professionalization and higher spending per capita, a higher tax burden and less economic freedom. Specifically, each increase in the level of professionalization results in an estimated $441 increase in spending per person, and a 0.4 percent increase in taxes as a percentage of income.

Term limits are just one of many government reforms. Initiative & Referendum, returning to a part-time legislature and more spending transparency also have the potential to move the culture in Harrisburg away from legacy building.