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For the Many or the FewThe Initiative, Public Policy, and American Democracy$
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John G. Matsusaka

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226510811

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226510873.001.0001

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For the Many or the Few

For the Many or the Few

(p.53) Chapter 4 For the Many or the Few
For the Many or the Few
University of Chicago Press

This chapter takes up the central question of the book: Does the initiative benefit the many or the few? In several ways, the initiative has changed tax and spending policies in the states over the last three decades: it cut spending, decentralized expenditure from state to local governments, and led to less reliance on taxes and more on charges for services. Did the public want these changes to occur? Or were the changes forced upon them by narrow special interests that used the initiative to manipulate the policy process for private gain? These questions are at the heart of the debate over the initiative. The Progressives believed the initiative would allow citizens to approve popular policies that were suppressed in the legislature by special interests. Critics of the initiative turn the argument on its head and argue that special interests use the initiative to thwart the will of the voters. Which argument is correct is an empirical question.

Keywords:   spending policies, initiative, tax policies, special interests, policy process, expenditure

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