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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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When Legislators Get Out of Step

When Legislators Get Out of Step

(p.83) Chapter 6 When Legislators Get Out of Step
For the Many or the Few
University of Chicago Press

This chapter aims to weave together some of the theory that does exist to provide a framework for understanding why initiative and noninitiative states periodically choose different spending levels. It suggests that representative government is subject to certain frictions that cause representatives to get out of step with their constituents. When they do get out of step, legislatures choose policies that a majority of their constituents dislike. In initiative states, policies are brought back into alignment with constituent preferences quickly. In noninitiative states, the adjustment process is slower, working through the machinery of periodic candidate elections. The chapter assumes that certain facts have been established—initiative and noninitiative states periodically select different fiscal policies and those in the initiative states are closer to what the majority wants—and attempts to assemble a theory that is consistent with them, what is essentially an exercise in inductive theorizing.

Keywords:   initiative states, noninitiative states, spending levels, representative government, elections, fiscal policies, inductive theorizing

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