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Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing: An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtedness


  • Kiewiet, D Roderick
  • Szakaly, Kristin


State and local governments have long had constitutional limits on the issuance of full faith and credit debt. Our analyses find that levels of such debt depend on the type of restriction in place. States that either prohibit guaranteed debt or require referendum approval to issue it have less guaranteed debt than those that require a supermajority of the legislature to issue debt or those that have revenue-based limitations. Although the issuance of state nonguaranteed debt does not appear to be generally motivated by the aim of circumventing constitutional limitations on guaranteed debt, restrictive provisions at the state level do result in the devolution of debt issuance to governments at the local level. Our findings suggest that current proposals for constitutional limitations on borrowing at the federal level would have much less impact on total government borrowing than their proponents anticipate. Copyright 1996 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Kiewiet, D Roderick & Szakaly, Kristin, 1996. "Constitutional Limitations on Borrowing: An Analysis of State Bonded Indebtedness," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 62-97, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:12:y:1996:i:1:p:62-97

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