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Stop Us Before We Spend Again: Institutional Constraints On Government Spending




A distributive politics model establishes that the presence of exogenously enforceable spending limits reduces spending and that the effect of executive veto authority is contingent on whether spending is capped and whether the chief executive is a liberal or conservative. Surprisingly, when spending limits are in place, governments with conservative executives spend more than those with more liberal chief executives. Limits are welfare improving, as is the executive veto when it leads to the building of override coalitions. Using 32 years of US state budget data, this paper also establishes empirically that strict balanced budget rules constrain spending and also lead to less pronounced short-term responses to fluctuations in a state's economy. Party variables like divided government and party control of state legislatures tend to have little or no direct effect, with political institutions and economic indicators explaining much of the variation in state spending. Copyright 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • David M. Primo, 2006. "Stop Us Before We Spend Again: Institutional Constraints On Government Spending," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(3), pages 269-312, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:18:y:2006:i:3:p:269-312

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Alesina & Tamim Bayoumi, 1996. "The Costs and Benefits of Fiscal Rules: Evidence from U.S. States," NBER Working Papers 5614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blume, Lorenz & Voigt, Stefan, 2013. "The economic effects of constitutional budget institutions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 236-251.
    2. Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay & John McLaren, 2015. "When Is It Optimal to Delegate: The Theory of Fast-Track Authority," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 347-389, August.
    3. Maria Cornachione Kula, 2014. "Are US state and local governments consumption smoothers?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 41(1), pages 87-100, January.
    4. Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Government Ideology and Economic Policy-Making in the United States," CESifo Working Paper Series 6444, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Celik, Levent & Karabay, Bilgehan & McLaren, John, 2013. "Trade policy-making in a model of legislative bargaining," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 179-190.
    6. Christian Bjørnskov & Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "The size and scope of government in the US states: does party ideology matter?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(4), pages 687-714, August.
    7. John A. Dove, 2016. "Do fiscal constraints prevent default? Historical evidence from U.S. municipalities," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 185-209, May.
    8. repec:eee:poleco:v:51:y:2018:i:c:p:69-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Ringa Raudla, 2010. "Governing budgetary commons: what can we learn from Elinor Ostrom?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 201-221, December.
    10. repec:kap:pubcho:v:173:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0484-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Heinemann, Friedrich & Moessinger, Marc-Daniel & Yeter, Mustafa, 2015. "Do Fiscal Rules Constrain Fiscal Policy? A Meta-Regression-Analysis," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112800, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Dongwon Lee, 2016. "Supermajority rule and bicameral bargaining," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(1), pages 53-75, October.
    13. Levent Celik & Bilgehan Karabay, 2016. "Veto players and equilibrium uniqueness in the Baron–Ferejohn model," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 81(1), pages 33-52, June.
    14. Christian Bjørnskov & Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Political Ideology and Economic Freedom Across Canadian Provinces," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 143-166.
    15. Krogstrup, Signe & Wyplosz, Charles, 2010. "A common pool theory of supranational deficit ceilings," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 269-278, February.
    16. Steven Deller & Judith I. Stallmann & Lindsay Amiel, 2012. "The Impact of State and Local Tax and Expenditure Limitations on State Economic Growth," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(1), pages 56-84, March.
    17. William B. Hankins, 2015. "Government Spending, Shocks, and the Role of Legislature Size: Evidence from the American States," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1059-1070, December.
    18. John A. Dove, 2017. "Property Tax Limits, Balanced Budget Rules, and Line-Item Vetoes: A Long-Run View," Eastern Economic Journal, Palgrave Macmillan;Eastern Economic Association, vol. 43(2), pages 288-317, March.
    19. Heiko T. Burret & Lars P. Feld, 2014. "A Note on Budget Rules and Fiscal Federalism," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(1), pages 03-11, 04.
    20. Michael Dothan & Fred Thompson, 2009. "A better budget rule," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(3), pages 463-478.
    21. repec:ces:ifodic:v:12:y:2014:i:1:p:19108838 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Bergman, U. Michael & Hutchison, Michael M. & Jensen, Svend E. Hougaard, 2016. "Promoting sustainable public finances in the European Union: The role of fiscal rules and government efficiency," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 1-19.

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