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Kousser: Term limits and the dismantling of state legislative professionalism

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.

Kousser. 2005. Term limits and the dismantling of state legislative professionalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW

RESEARCH QUESTION: How do term limits (X1) and legislative resources (X2: staff, salary, session length) affect the form (Y2) and function (Y1) of a legislature?

X1: TERM LIMITS

They don't necessarily eliminate reelection concerns, because term-limited politicians tend to seek higher offices after serving in the legislator. [But why doesn't he consider how this changes incentives? After all, a legislator with ambitions for higher office would provide different policies (i.e. more public goods) than a nonambitious legislator (who will provide pork). See my comments on Carey et al 2003.]

X2: LEGISLATIVE RESOURCES (professionalism)

A continuous variable consisting of three factors: staff size, salary, and session length.

Y1: FUNCTION: "TRANSFORMATIVE" LEGISLATURES

A "transformative" legislature leaves a profound stamp on legislative outcomes. This has two aspects:

  1. How much can the house scrutinze/oppose executive branch proposals?
  2. How able is the legislature to enact innovative policies?

Y2: FORM: INTERNAL POWER DYNAMICS

  1. How stable is the house's hierarchy? How long do legislative leaders stay in power?
  2. How independent are committees? Transformative legislatures encourage autonomous committees with expertise.
  3. How successful are minority party legislators relative to the majority?

Each of these 5 aspects of the dependent variables is treated separately in the chapters tha follow.

CHAPTER 6: BARGAINING BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCHES (from handout)

BIG POINTS: Modeling budget negotiations as a divide the dollar game, Kousser hypothesizes and finds that less experienced and less professional state legislatures will have less influence over the budget process than the governor [he looks at medical and education spending, since they are discretionary]. Term limits make legislators less patient and unwilling to draw out the process, giving the governor more influence. Inexperienced legislatures also don't have the political expertise necessary to accurately anticipate how patient the governor is.

RESEARCH DESIGN

X1: Effect of Term Limits

X2: Effect of Professionalism:

Questions: Do the institutional effects change under deficit conditions? Would the differences be significant?

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects

Tags

Kousser, Thad (author)Political ScienceAmerican PoliticsState Politics (U.S.)Term Limits and ProfessionalismLegislatures

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