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DEVELOPING DIRECT DEMOCRACY: INSTITUTIONAL EXPLANATIONS FOR INCREASED BALLOT INITIATIVE USE BY CLARE LETMON A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorship of Dr. Keith Fitzgerald Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
ii Table of Contents List of Tables ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. iii List of Figures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. iv Abstract ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... v Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Discussions of US Ballot Initiatives: From the Progressives to Prop. 13 ............... 6 Progressive Adoption: Causes and Explanations ................................ .............................. 7 Initiatives Today: Determinants of Initiative Use ................................ ........................... 11 Explanations of Increased Use ................................ ................................ ....................... 15 Methods and Case Selection ................................ ................................ .......................... 18 Chapter 2 A Western Phenomenon: Initiative Use in California ................................ .......... 24 Interest Groups ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 33 33 Legislative Professionalism ................................ ................................ ............................ 36 Divided Government ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 38 Budget Constraint ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 39 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 41 Chapter 3 Coast to Coast: Moderat e Initiative Use in Arizo na, Massachusetts and Washington ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 43 Arizona ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 43 Massachusetts ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 60 Washington ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 74 Chapter 4 Land Locked: Unchang e d Initiative Use in North Dakota and Oklahoma 87 Oklahoma ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 87 North Dakota ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 99 Chapter 5 Institutional Explanations for Increased Initiative Use Interest Groups Matter ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 113 Navigating a More Professional Legislature ................................ ................................ 115 The Constraining Effects of Tax Reform ................................ ................................ ...... 116 Divided Government ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 119 Alternate Explanations and Unconsidered Factors ................................ ........................ 120 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 122 Bibliography
iii List of Tables Table 1.1 Changes in Initiative Use since 1970 ................................ ................................ 20 Table 2.1California Qualification Requirements ................................ .............................. 28 Table 2.2 California Legislative Professionalism Sc ores ................................ ................. 37 Table 2.3 California Partisan Composition 1975 2006 ................................ ..................... 39 Table 3.1 Arizona Qualification Requirements ................................ ................................ 45 Table 3.2 Arizona Legislative Professionalism Scores ................................ ..................... 54 Table 3.3 Arizona Partisan Composition, 1978 2009 ................................ ....................... 57 Table 3.4 Massachusetts Qualification Requirements ................................ ...................... 63 Table 3.5 Massachusetts Legislative Professionalism Scores ................................ .......... 69 Table 3.6 Massachusetts Partisan Composition, 1975 2007 ................................ ............ 71 Table 3.7 Washi ngton Qualification Requirements ................................ .......................... 77 Table 3.8 Washington Legislative Professionalism Scores ................................ .............. 83 Table 3.9 Washin gton Partisan Composition 1977 2009 ................................ ................. 84 Table 4.1 Oklahoma Qualification Requirements ................................ ............................ 89 Table 4.2 Oklahoma Legislative Professionalism Scores ................................ ................. 94 Table 4.3 Oklahoma Partisan Composition 1979 2011 ................................ ................... 96 Table 4.4 North Dakota Qualification Requirements ................................ ..................... 101 Table 4.5 North Dakota Legislative Professionalism Scores ................................ .......... 106 Table 4.6 North Dakota Partisan Compositio n 1977 2010 ................................ ............ 108 Table 5.1 Summary of Explanatory Variables ................................ ................................ 113
iv List of Figures Figure 2.1 Frequency of California Initiative Use, 1912 2008 ................................ ......... 30 Figure 2.2 California Initiatives by Subject, 1978 2008 ................................ ................... 31 Figure 2.3 California Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1976 and 1978 2008 ......................... 31 Figure 2.4 California Economic and Citizen Interest Groups, 1975, 1980, 1990, 1997 ... 35 Figure 3.1 Frequency of Arizona Initiative Use, 1912 2008 ................................ ............ 48 Figure 3.2 Arizona Initiatives by Subject, 1978 2008 ................................ ...................... 49 Figure 3.3 Arizona Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1976 and 1978 2008 ............................ 49 Figure 3.4 Arizona Economic and Citizen Interest Groups, 1975, 19 80, 1990, 1997 ...... 53 Figure 3.5 Frequency of Massachusetts Initiative Use, 1918 2008 ................................ .. 64 Figure 3.6 Massachusetts Initiatives by Subject, 1978 2008 ................................ ............ 65 Figure 3.7 Massachusetts Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1977 and 1978 2008 .................. 66 Figure 3.8 Massachusetts Eco nomic and Citizen Interest Groups, 1975 1997 ................. 6 Figure 3.9 Frequency of Washington Initiative Use, 1914 2008 ................................ ...... 78 Figure 3.10 Washington Initiatives by Subject, 1978 2008 ................................ ............. 78 Figure 3.11 Washington Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1977 and 1978 2008 .................... 79 Figure 3.12 Washington Economic and Citizen Interest Groups, 1975 1997 ................. 81 Figure 4.1 Frequency of Oklahoma Initiative Use, 1908 2008 ................................ ........ 90 Figure 4.2 Oklahoma Initiative Use by Subject, 1978 2008 ................................ ............ 91 Figure 4.3 Oklahoma Initiative Use by Subject, 1948 1977 and 1978 2008 ................... 92 Figure 4.4 Oklahoma Economic and Citizen Interest Groups 1975, 1980, 1990, 1997 ... 93 Figure 4.5 Frequency of North Dakota Initiative Use, 1918 2008 ................................ 102 Figure 4.6 North Dakota Initi atives by Subject, 1978 2008 ................................ ........... 103 Figure 4.7 North Dakota Economic and Citizen Interest Groups 1975 1997 ................. 104
v Developing Direct Democracy: Institutional Explanations for Increased B a l l o t Initiative Use Clare Letmon New College of Florida, 2013 ABSTRACT A citizen initiated ballot initiative i s a proposed law that citizens petition to place directly on the ballot to be decided on by the people F o l l o w i n g t h e p a s s a g e o f C a l i f o r n i a s p r o p e r t y t a x s l a s h i n g P r o p o s i t i o n 1 3 i n 1 9 7 8 m a n y s t a t e s h a v e e x p e r i e n c e d a s i g n i f i c a n t i n c r e a s e i n b a l l o t initiative u s e a c r o s s a w i d e r a n g e o f i s s u e s The goal of this project was to understand how political and e conomic institutions developed and interacted over time to encourage increased initiative use from an institutional p e r s p e c t i v e T h i s s t u d y p o s i t s t h a t Proposition 13 and the tax revolts catalyzed increased initiative use by adding another layer of difficulty to state legislativ e processes that were already facing n ew institutional challenges. I n o r d e r t o d e t e r m i n e h o w t h i s p r o c e s s occurred t h i s s t u d y c o m p a r e d a n d e v a l u a t e d the expansion and diversification of interest groups, increased professionalism of state legislatures, and instances of divided government, in combination with the constraining institutional effects of Pro position 13 and the tax revolts i n s e v e r a l s t a t e s a s d e v e l o p m e n t s that made influencing state legislatures increasingly difficult and encouraged initiative use s i n c e 1 9 7 8 Qualitative case study analyses of California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, North Dakota, and Oklahoma indicate that increasingly large and diverse interest group popul ations, in combination with tax cutti ng reform s and a more professional legislature s may encourage increased initiative use. States that lacked the
vi economic development and diversity that necessitated the expansion of interest groups also lacked the growth of government t h a t pre cipitated cal ls for tax reform and subsequent increase in initiative use Proposition 13 and tax reforms acted as a reinforcing mechanism by shifting local financial responsibilities to the states which i ncreased demand for state resources while simultaneously constraining state budgets. As a result, f a c i n g i n c r e a s e d c o m p e t i t i o n a n d d i l u t e d i n f l u e n c e groups increasingly turned to initiatives t o guarantee funding and bypass more competitive and difficult legislative process e s D r K e i t h F i t z g e r a l d D i v i s i o n o f S o c i a l S c i e n c e s
Letmon 1 Introduction At many points in American history, citizens have pushed to expand direct involvement in their democracy in an effort to create a more representative and effective government (Schmidt 1989) At the national level, this has often meant grad ual enfranchisement of larger, more diverse groups or the expansion of direct elections (Keyssar 2000) Individual states have attempted to enhance democracy even further through forms of direct democracy. As opposed to representative democracy in which el ected representatives make policy decisions, direct democracy allows the citizens to participate directly in the legislative process. Interest in direct democracy peaked during the late 19th and early 20th century when many states adopted new measures to c ombat corruption and faulty accountability in state governments as a part of the Progressive movement (Waters 2003) The ballot initiative was one such method. Different from a referendum, in which representative bodies refer pieces of legislation to the people for approval, a ballot initiative is a proposed law that citizens petition to place on the ballot in order to be voted on by the people. The past thirty years have witnessed a renewed interest in ballot initiatives as citizens and groups have increa singly turned to initiativ es to accomplish their policy goals (Boehmke 2005).
Letmon 2 Starting in South Dakota in 1898, ballot initiatives were soon added to the constitutions of twenty four states. Since then, the initiative has fallen in and out of popularit y; the frequency of initiative use has varied greatly throughout the states over the course of the 20th century and reemerged over the past thirty years Fr om the Progressive Era until World War II, the initiative was used with great frequency (Waters 2003 ) As domestic affairs became focuse d on the war effort, initiative use dropped significantly in the 1940s. Although it rose somewhat after the W ar, the number of total initiatives during the 1950s and 19 60s never came close to those during the Progressive Era. During this time many states saw numerous election years go by without a single initiati ve on the ballot (Schmidt 1989). However since the late 1970s, initiatives have reemerged as a popular policy making tool in many states in increasing numbers thr oughout the 1980s and 1990s. This study will focus on the conditions and events of the past thirty years that enabled the ballot initiative to become a viable legislative option once again. In 1978, the citizens of California passed a piece of legislation that changed the face of state politics for decades to come. Although the idea of cutting taxes by means of ballot initiative was not particularly revolutionary, the effects of Proposition 13 were felt across the United States. The efforts and success of Proposition 13 received national media attention and soon after, st ate by state, citizens took lawmaking into their own their own increasing property taxes (Magleby 1984, Schmidt 1989) Forty three states implemented som e form of property tax limitations or relief in the two years following Proposition 13 (Waters 2003). Since then the use of ballot initiatives has significantly increased across a broad array of issue areas in many
Letmon 3 state s From 1950 to 1969, 225 initiativ es appeared on ballots. This number doubled to 446 between 1970 and 1989 and tripled from 1990 to 2009 ( IRI Historical Database 2010 ). Although the initiative increase initially focused on tax reform, the expansion over the following decades represented a diverse range of political concerns including both liberal and conservative interests in business regulation, environmental issues, education, crime and punishment, administration of government, gaming, and a number of social issues including gay rights, abortion, and immigrant rights (Waters 2003). This study seeks to understand the institutional motivations for this expanded initiative use. The resurgence in initiative use in the past three decades piqued academic interest in the ballot initiative and direct democracy more generally. Despite this expanded academic attention for the ballot initiative in recent years, few authors delve into the relationship between Proposition 13 and the dramatic increase in initiative use that has occurred over the past 30 years (Magleby 1984, Cronin 1989, Schmidt 1989, Waters interest in ballot initiatives for a wide range of issues across the country? By drawing from a broad span of l iterature that looks at the historical context of initiative adopt ion during the Progressive era, the determinants of initiative use today and existing explanations of increased initiative use, this study seeks to understand the political and institutiona l conditions that precipitated and accompanied the dramatic increase in initiative use followin g the passage of Proposition 13. The literature identifies several factors that contribute to variations in usage between the states but rarely acknowledges the se variations across time or considers the institutional ly constraining effects of Proposition 13 and tax reform initiatives. The goal
Letmon 4 of this project is to unders tand how political and economic institutions developed and interacted over time in several st ates to encourage increased initiative use. Proposition 13 and tax revolts are viewed as contingent events with institutional ramifications that exacerbated the effects of an ongoing process. This study seeks to evaluate whether or not this process occurre d b y comparing changes in the size and diversity of interest group populations, levels of legislative professionalism, partisan divisi on within the state government, and budgetary constraint as factors that increased the difficulty of working within state legislatures and encouraged increased initiative use Tax reform ballot initiatives did not simply reintroduce initiatives into the int erest group strategy book but the resulting budgetary constraint in combination with the above institutional variables made navigating and influencing the traditional policy making in state legislature s an increasingly expensive and unsatisfying task Proposition 13 and tax reforms further increased competition for resources in state legislatures that were simultaneously a nd increasingly unable to sati sfy the political demands of expanding interest group population s Facing increased competition and diluted influence inside the legislature, groups turned to ballot initiatives as an easier and less costly alternative to acc omplish their policy goals. The ballot initiative is an interesting and important institution in American political development for a number of reasons. Because ballot initiatives allow for direct citizen participation in the legislative process, their i ncreased use has important implications for the quality of democracy and government in the states. Proposition 13 democratic wish to expand popular control over their governme nt (Schmidt 1989,
Letmon 5 Morone 1998). While at first glance it may seem that increased initiative use over the past thirty years indicates a growing desire for citizen participation and an enhancement of democracy (a normatively desirable situation), the initiat ive process that developed has been increasingly used by well funded political actors to carve out a place in the state budget and constrain the ability of legislatures to govern effectively. Understanding the far reaching institutional effects of Proposit ion 13 and the important role that interest groups have come to play in the initiative process casts a much less democratic light on this expanded direct democracy. This study examines the positively reinforcing process, spurred by Proposition 13, through which groups have faced increasing institutional incentives to bypass representative democracy in favor of unchecked ballot initiatives. Only twenty four states provide for the ballot initiative, and of these, seventeen lie west of the Mississippi River This geographic divide provides for intriguing comparisons of the development of democratic institutions and characteristics of the states. This study takes a closer look at how these varying institutional conditions in California, Arizona, Massachusetts Washington, Oklahoma and North Dakota affected trends of high, moderate or low initiative use since 1978. Geographic diversity was also taken into account in an effort to increase political, economic, and cultural variability among the cases. This study contribute s to an understanding of democratic ins titutional development in the United States by looking at how the political and institutional conditions of the 1970s, p unctuated by Proposition 13, created a process by which groups in many states became more reliant on the initiative in order to pass legislation.
Letmon 6 Chapter 1 Discussions of US Ballot Initiatives: From the Progressives to Proposition 13 Political scien tists study ballot initiatives to better understand how they have affected American political development. Proposition 13 and the reemergence of initiative use in the 1970s reignited academic interest in the ballot initiative resulted in a large and divers e pool of literature. Although much of the literature acknowledges Proposition 13 as a watershed moment in initiative history, few authors explore the relationship between Proposition 13 and the dramatic increase in initiative use that has occurred over t he past 30 years (Magleby 1984, Cronin 1989, Schmidt 1989, Waters 2003, Boehmke 2005, Biggers 2011). This study examines how political and institutional developments of the 1970s 1980s and 1990s were exacerbated by tax reform initiatives that pushed grou ps to use the initiative for their legislative needs. Although there are many strands of literature within the study of ballot initiatives, this study focuses on the conditions surrounding initiative adoption, determin ing factors of present day initiative use, and the existing explanations for incre ased use.
Letmon 7 Progressive Adoption: Causes and Explanations Why the ballot initiative achieved success in some states rather than others is a popular topic of academic discussion U nderstanding the conditions under which the initiative was originally adopted provides insight into why and how it made a comeback in the 1970s. Some authors see the circumstances surrounding initiative adoption as similar to those surrounding the resurgence in initiative use. Tolbert (20 03, 2005) draws strong parallels between the circumstances and political conditions of the Progressive Era and the 1980s and 1990s when the initiative was back in full swing. Both periods were marked by increased direct democracy, tax and term limitations legislation, and a Examining the institutional conditions that encouraged initiative adoption provides historical context and allows for an evaluation of how certain institutions h a ve developed and affected ballot initiative use differently over time The ballot initiative emerged during the 1890s and early 1900s as part of Populist and Progressive efforts to combat government corruption and reinvigorate the democratic process. Bal lot initiatives became a part of the populist platform initially as farm foreclosures rose dramatically and living conditions worsened in the West (Cronin 1989). These discontented farmers turned to politics to combat the predatory credit policies and rail road rates only to encounter a system dominated by big money special interests. As movement's political agenda than the conviction that the economic misery of farmer s resulted from legislation favoring special interests and concentrating wealth and power in the hands o Direct democracy, more specifically the ballot
Letmon 8 initiative, provided a means of bypassing these corrupt and ineffective legislatures by placing legislative power in the hands of the people. Although the populist movement developed the notion of direct democracy in state governments, initiatives and referenda had more political success once they became a part of the Progres sive agenda (Cronin 1989). Beginning with South Dakota in 1898, provisions for the ballot initiative spread state by state as support and popularity for direct democracy grew. Of the 24 states that have some form of ballot initiative process, 19 had adopte d the initiative by 1918 (Waters 2003). Although the initiative spread quickly, it did not spread everywh ere. As a result, scholars look at the why some states pursued the ballot initiative and others did not. What political, institutional, and social co nditions made populations and legislatures more attuned to the ballot initiative during the Progressive Era ? Some authors offer narrative explanations that place greater emphasis on more actor driven approaches to explain why ballot initiatives were adopte d in certain states (Sponholtz 1973, Goebel 1997). Goebel stresses the ability of certain actors to increase salience on antimonopoly and direct democracy ideology in concordance with a strong distrust of state legislatures through succeeded when reform leaders were able to keep their reform agendas as broad and widely acceptable as possible to avoid alienating particular factions of the Progressives a nd Populists (Sponhol tz 1973, G o e bel 1997, Bridges and Kousser 2001). Sponholtz (1973, 44) explains that the initiative came at a time of eroding legislative authority; colonial and revolutionary disdain for executive authority and majoritarian threats were less of a concern t o western Populists. Additionally, Sponholtz (1973, 60) attributes the
Letmon 9 introduction of the special interest organization, in contrast to geographic interests or party interests, as a key explanatory factor. A s Bridges and Kousser (2001) point out, these s tudies analyze why ballot initiatives were adopted in some states but do little to explain why they were unsuccessful in others. Despite the strong Progressive labor movement in Northeastern cities and discontented farm interests in the South, the ballot i nitiative was never successful in these regions. In their study, Bridges and Kousser also place emphasis on specific reformers but argue instead that reformers only adopted direct democracy ideology when they could be sure the voter they were empowering wo uld promote progressive political interests with their new legislative power (2001, 167). Northeastern and Southern Progressive leaders could not be certain that diverse immigrant populations and tenant farmers would support their policy agendas if they g ranted them the power to legislate. Other studies of uneven ballot initiatives development focus on the weakness of political parties in the West in comparison to eastern party machines (Shefter 1983, Bowler and Donovan 2009). Some argue that these newer states had less solid institutional structures, making them more malleable and accepting of direct democracy reforms. Shefter (1983 460 ) argues that the success of Western reformers was a result of the absence of a strong tradition of patronage politics in the West which allowed reformers to mobilize the larger number of voters who were only weakly attached to the party machines. Without the iron grip of party machines on political processes, the Populist Party was able to gain momentum and popularity in order to pass ballot initiative
Letmon 10 conclusions that states with higher levels of populist activity saw more success in implementing ballot initiatives (2009, 1028). These ex planations for the roots of initiative use during the Progressive Era provide a point from which to examine ballot initiative resurgence in the 1970s. While interest groups and popular dissatisfaction with state governments played an important role in both periods, institutional developments in the intervening years created significant and to some extent ironic, differences between the motivations and actors involved with initiative adoption and those that accompanied initiative reemergence since the 1970s Initiatives were initially adopted as a means to bypass corrupt state legislatures controlled by just a few large economic interests. In the decades following World War II, the size and diversity of many state interest group populations expanded dramatic ally ( Gray and Lowery 1996 ). Rather than just a few strong economic interests dominating a now had to compete for influence and resources (Gray and Lowery 1994 ; Baumgartner, Gray, and Lowery 2007 ). This project argues t hat this institutional development played an integral role in encouraging the reemergence and increasing reliance on ballot initiatives since the 1970s. What was initially adopted to undermine interest group control of state government is now an important tool for interest groups for seeking to influence state politics. Another interesting paradox between these two period s is that since 1970 groups have increasingly used initiatives to combat the expanded state bureaucracy that developed partly as a resu lt of Progressive Era direct democracy reforms. Morone (1998 1 enhance democracy and increase democratic control of government they have the ironic
Letmon 11 result of expanding bure aucracy and the administrative authority of the state. Reformers used the initiative process to impl ement other Progressive reforms increased business and labor regulations for example, which result ed in expansion of state bureaucracies (Morone 1998 ) By the late 1970s, the initiative reemerged to combat this bureaucratic development. Proposition 13 and the tax revolts represented popular backlash to the taxing, spending, and overall expansion of government in their lives (Schmidt 1989). W hile there are si milarities between the two periods such as expansion of direct democracy, popular dissatisfaction with government and importance of interest groups, political and economic developments in the intervening years had significant effects on who increasingly u sed initiatives after Proposition 13 and the motivations for using initiatives. The following section examines the modern period of initiative use and the factors identified in the literature to explain variations in initiative use between states. Initi atives Today : Determinants of Initiative Use A nother branch of the field is devoted to studying which factors determine whether initiatives appear on the ballot or not. These studies explore the circumstances under which citizens or interest groups turn t o ballot initiatives for lawmaking instead of using the traditional route through the legislature. Although this literature looks at causes and predictors of ballot initiative use year by year, these studies do not explain why or how the initiative became increasingly popular after Proposition 13. In other words, they do not take contingent events or trends into account but rather provide a statistical explanation for variations in initiative use at a particular moment in time, or as Pierson (2004, 1) descr ibes Understanding the factors that
Letmon 12 make ballot initiative use more likely provides a starting point from which to examine how these variables developed over time to affect rates of initiative use since 1978. The li kelihood that an initiative will appear on the ballot in any particular state depends on a number of factors. Most scholars focus on the role of qualifying regulations, perceived dissatisfaction with legislatures and representation, and the size, number, a nd strength of active interest groups in a state. Banducci (1998, 113) categorizes the different factors that determine when initiatives are used into structural, political, and cultural factors and most other authors fall into one of these three categorie s. She defines features of state legislatures that may affect legislative effectiveness (number of legislatures, divided government, and l egislative professionalization Different states enforce different regulations restricting which initiatives qualify to be on the ballot. These regulations, usually in the form of minimum petition signature requirements and collection time limitations, can significantly alter the cost of placing an initiative on the ballot and therefore affect whether or not the initiative route is taken (Matsusaka and McCarty 2001, B o e hmke 2005). Signature requirements range from 2 to 15 percent of votes cast in the previous election fo r governor or secretary of state, with 3 to 6 months to gather them ( Banducci 1998, 28). Banducci supports this conclusion and finds that for every increase of 2,000 signatures required per day, the number of initiatives that predicted to appear on the bal lot decreases by 3 ( 1998 116). Some states impose geographic distribution requirements which attempt to ensure that a measure has broad support throughout the state before making it on the ballot.
Letmon 13 Other scholars view ballot initiatives as a result of co nditions in the legislature that determine whether policy making within the legislature is particularly easy or difficul t This strand in the literature builds off a larger and broader set of literature that examines determinants of legislative gridlock, a sserting that when legislating becomes more difficult, or gridlocked, groups turn to ballot initiatives as an easier alternative (Binder 1999) T his study will use Bowling and Ferguson (2001, 185) definition of ocess that makes bill passage more difficult Banducci (1998) finds that divided government, constituency size, and legislative professionalization are all significantly related to initiative use. A divided state Banducci 1998, 113). Banducci suggests that a more professionalized legislature, with its more competitive elections, attracts special interes t money that results in legislative inaction on some issues and increased initiative use as a result (1998,114). Interest groups are discussed at length in the literature as being another leading predictor of initiative use. Interest groups play an integ ral role in policymaking and there has been an explosion in the size and scope of interest group activity at the state level that has coincided with increased initiative use over the past 30 years. Somewhat similar to the findings of studies on the Progres sive E ra regarding the influence of third parties, Price (1975) argues that the strength of citizen interest groups is a very important factor time in initiative histo ry before many states began using initiatives again and few scholars paid attention to it. Since many states had not yet seen reinvigorated initiative
Letmon 14 limited. Boehm and variety of interest groups rather than just the number in each state. Boehmke specifically examines interest groups in order to argue that the initiative process is not overwhelmingl y dominated by economic interests as opposed to the intended citizen groups (2005) He finds that states with large citizen interest groups do have higher rates of initiative use than states with larger economic interest groups ( Boehmke 2005, 565). Boehmke study also supports the conclusions of Banducci (1998) and McGrath (2011) that qualification requirements, citizen ideology, and ineffectiveness of state legislatures are also factors th at contribute to initiative use. Gray and Lowery (1995 ) fi nd strong correlation between large and diverse interest group populations and increased legislative gridlock. n dense and confl ict ridden systems, more inter est activity may actually act to cancel out intere st would lead us t o expect that more interests may actually reduce the level of legislative activity and Lowery 1995, 533). In situations where legislating has become more difficult because of larger, more competitive interest group populations, groups may find the in itiative to be an easier method of influencing policy outcomes (Baumgartner, Gray, and Lowery 2007) These determining factors may explain why some states offer more initiatives than others, but scholars do not look at these factors to explain variations in initiative use over time. Since qualification requirements have largely remained static, they cannot explain an increase in initiative use. If anything, population growth has made petitioning and qualification more difficult and expensive. This literat ure identifies factors that may
Letmon 15 have made citizens susceptible to the spark of Proposition 13, making them more likely to turn to the initiative to begin with. Explanations of Increased Use Despite the obvious increase in initiative use beginning in the 1970s, few studies examine why and how it reemerged with such vigor. Magleby (1984) attributes the rising numbers of the 1970s to the subject matter of the initiatives, increased media attention given to initiatives, and discovery of the initiative by pub lic interests groups during this time. He points particularly to how state level policies received nation wide media Magleby 1984, 6). Additionally, Magleby (1984) and Bowler and Donovan (1998 ) see the emergence of an initiative industry as the most important factor contributing to increased initiative use. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the rise of signature gathering firms which would guarantee qualification of a proposition on a ballot i f the price was right ( Magleby 1984). These firms manage qualify proposed initiatives by paying people to gather signatures. It therefore became easier for any interest group with enough money to place anything on the ballot. However, Magleby (1984) and explanation does not entirely answer the question of this study. The emergence of signature gathering firms only confirms increased demand for ballot initiatives but d oes not explain what caused it. What motivated groups to dive rt funds away from traditional lobbying to increasingly pay firms to qualify initiatives? This study seeks to identify the institutional developments and incentives that increasingly encouraged groups to use initiatives.
Letmon 16 Banducci (1998) argues that the use of counterpropositions during this time resulted in much of the increased the number of initiatives. Increasingly groups would introduce opposition propositions in order to deflect attention awa y from the original initiative. However, all of these authors seeking to explain increased initiative use suffer from a particularly strong selection bias by focus ing almost entirely on circumstances in California, an extreme and not particularly representative state. While this study does include California, it rec ognizes that in order to understand how and why a process occurred it is important to also examine cases where that process did not occur. media attention to initiativ e issues, increased distrust and disillusionment with politicians, ix). He centers his argument on the efforts of these individuals to enact state wide initiative le driven approach do es not serve to explain why some initiative states experienced increased use while others did not despite nationwide exposure to Proposition 13 and disillusionment with politicians. Another actor driven explan ation that does not receive much academic attention is that political actors have increasingly turned to initiatives as political tools to manipulate the political voice of particular constituents As a tool of constituency politics, initiatives are place d on ballots to drive particular demographic turnout or divert funds from opposition candidates Whether or not the measure passes is less important to the initiative sponsors than the political gain that comes from simply having the measure on the ballot. It is more than likely that initiatives are often used this way but since it is impossible to empirically identify the true motivations surrounding initiative use, in order
Letmon 17 to identify an institutional explanation for increased initiative use, this thesis assumes that groups choose to use initiatives to achieve certain policy outcomes when influencing the legislature has become too difficult or expensive. This study seeks to expand the scope of ballot initiative literature by conducting case studies of se veral representative states in order to better understand how political and institutional conditions contributed to increased ballot initiative use. Most of this the existing literature utilizes macro level quantitative analysis to identify those factors t hat best predict and explain ballot initiative adoption, use, and its effects. Those studies that look more qualitatively tend to focus on California and occasionally other high use states, but leaving out other initiative states with equally interesting i nitiative traditions. While these studies do contribute greatly to understanding the intricacies of ballot initiatives, and direct democracy more generally, they provide a limited picture of how state level institutions engage and interact to affect ballot initiative use. The literature serves as a guideline, highlighting particular institutional conditions that affect initiative use that will function as points of comparison between the states. ationship with the initiative providing historical and political context including the conditions of adoption, qualification requirements, and what kind of issues tend to make it on the ballot. The cases will evaluate the extent to which changes in interes t grou p populations legislative professionali sm and divided government made influencing state legislatures increasingly difficult and how these conditions were exacerbated by the budget constraining effects of tax reforms to create a positive feedback lo op which increasingly encouraged initiative use.
Letmon 18 Methods and Case Selection This study examines how state level economic and political developments over the past thirty years have interacted to affect rates of initiatives use What institutional role do increasingly used ballot initiatives since the 1970s? This study posits that Proposition 13 and the tax revolts catalyzed increased initiative use by adding another layer of difficult y to state legislative processes that were already facing new institutional challenges. T he following chapters will evaluate and compare the expansion and diversification of interest groups, increased profession alism of state legislatures, and instances of divided government in combination with the constraining institutional effects of Proposition 13 and the tax revolts, as explanatory variables that made working influencing state legislature s increasingly difficult and encouraged initiative use. The numbe r of citizen initiated ballot initiatives in each state over time will be examined as the outcome variable affected by these explanatory factors. Proposition 13 and tax reforms acted as a reinforcing mechanism by shifting local financial responsibilities to the states which increased demand for state resources while simultaneously constraining state budgets. As a result, groups increasingly turned to initiatives to guarantee funding and bypass a more competitive and difficult legislative process. Methods In order to determine whether and how this process occurred this project conducts a comparative case study of California, Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts,
Letmon 19 Oklahoma and North Dakota as representative cases using institutional analysis to attempt to ide ntify causal mechanism s through which Proposition 13 and tax reform initiatives led groups to increasingly choose ballot initiatives This study anticipates that those states that experienced significant budgetary constraint as a result of a lso underwent an increase in ini tiative use with the extent of the increase determined by the variations in interest group growth, professionalization of the legislature, and divided government. The explanatory variables of s ize and diversity of interest group populations, legislative professionalis m, and divide d government were chosen based on characteristics statistically identified in the literature to explain variation in initiative use between the states. In ballot initiative literature these factors are looked at often as explaining variations in initiative use at a particular moment in time but this study will look at these variables and initiative use as institutions that developed and interacted over time. Since Proposition 13 is considered the poi nt after which initiatives reemerged, budgetary constraint following tax reform is an explanatory variable not considered in other explanations of increased initiative use. In this study, these explanatory variables will be examined in each case across tim e as factors that made working within state legislatures increasingly difficult and encouraged groups to increasingly use initiatives instead. Case Selection since 1970 In order to ensure variation of the outcome variable ( rates of state level citizen initiative use ), states were divided and chosen based on whether they have experienced high, moderate, or low/no increase with or without tax reform ballot initiatives since 1970 (see
Letmon 20 Table 1 .1) California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, Oklahoma, and North Dakota were chosen in order to get as politically, economically, geographically, and culturally varied a sample as possible. As Table 1.1 shows, the difficulty of picking truly unbias ed cases arises because no states experienced significantly increased initiative use without tax reform ballot initiatives. Table 1.1 Changes in Initiative Use With or Without Tax Reform Initiatives since 1970 Increase With T ax Reform Initiative With out T ax Reform Initiative High California, Oregon, Moderate Arizona South Dakota, Colorado, Florida, Washington Nevada, Massachusetts Michigan Low/No Oklahoma Montana, Ohio Idaho, Nebraska, Utah Alaska, Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota Maine, W yoming Illinois, Mississippi Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013. Ideally, the inclusion of more high and low use initiative states would provide a more thorough and representative understanding of initiative use in the states but was unfortunately outside the scope of this project. While it would be possible, and probably more conclusive, to include every initiative state in a quantitative project, the goals of this research design are bette r satisfied by comparative case studies. Bennet and Ellman hey (case studies) do not look for the net effect of a cause over a large number of cases, but rather how causes interact in the context of a particular case or a few cases to produce an outcome e argument of this study involves Proposition 13 as a contingent event that affected and interacted with ongoing institutional processes, it is important to take a closer look at how institutions developed in each state over time both qualitatively and ind ividually.
Letmon 21 California was chosen as the high use initiative case. In 1970 California had one initiative on the ballot but by 2008 it had fifteen California, in addition to using the initiative more than almost every other state, was the home of Proposit ion 13 the starting point for tax reforming initiatives and increased initiative use. Since then, the state has experienced significant interest group expansion, professionalization, budgetary constraint, and divided government. It represents the ideal c ase with all explanatory variables present and particularly strong. While California is often the primary focu s of ballot initiatives studies it is important to keep in mind that its remarkably high use is the exception rather than the rule. For this rea son, California is the only high use state studied and will be examined on its own in Chapter 2. Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington represent mo derate use initiative states. These states have experienced an obvious increase in initiative use but not as dramatic as California. While the states have seen a similarly moderate increase in initiative use, they have experienced variations in the explanatory variables of professionalization, divided government, and tax reform ballot initiatives. Since these cases have similar rates of increased initiative use, the variation of the explanatory variables within them will serve to identify which of these variables plays the biggest role in encouraging groups to use initiatives more. Arizona was chosen because it was a moderate use western state that underwent expansion of interest groups, moderate professionalization but unlike the other high/moderate states, has a strong Republican dominance and its tax reform initiative failed. Massachusetts has undergone m oderate initiative increase, had strong Democrat dominance, successfully passed its own tax reform initiatives, but has the most
Letmon 22 professional legislature (besides California) than the other states in this study. Finally, Washington represents th e middle of the road between Arizona and Massachusetts. It experienced a slightly smaller increase in use, similar increase in interest groups, average increased professionalization, but had a much more competitive and divided government. Unfortunately, all of these cases underwent similar interest group growth 1 Chapter 3 will compare the expansion and diversity of interest groups, legislative professionalism, divided government, and budgetary constraint as an effect of tax reform in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Wash ington in order to determine the institutional causal mechanisms for explaining increased initiative us e Chapter 4 will examine Oklahoma and North Dakota as low use initiative states that did not experience an increase in use. Without any significant ch ange in the outcome variable, strong differences in the explanatory variables for these cases compared to the other increased use states would indicate a possible institutional causal mechanism. Oklahoma has the lowest rate of initiative use of all the cas es in this study with no more than two initiatives on the ballot in any election since 1970 initiative use despite a tax reform ballot initiative indicates that tax reform on its own is not enough to explain the proc ess of increa sing initiative use it must align with certain institutional developments in order to push groups to use initiatives Oklahoma saw similar levels of professionalization and divided government seen in the other higher use states but had a significantly sm aller increase in interest groups. A closer case study 1 A future study could include South Dakota as an arguably moderate use state that had low interest group expansio n but, with the exception of the 2006 election, South Dakota is a low use initiative state and was not included for this reason.
Letmon 23 years attempts to uncover why the process of increasing initiative use did not occur despite the presence of other expl anatory variables. If California represents the ideal case with strong increases in all explanatory variables North Dakota serves as the inverse control case experiencing little to no change in either the explanatory or outcome variables While it does use the initiative more than Oklahoma, it saw no significant increase in initiative use since 1970. It did not experience budgetary constraint from drastic tax reform, professionalization of the legislature, long periods of divided government, or a large i ncrease in interest g roups. As a state with a strong history of heavy initiative use until the 1960s static and low initiative use indicates that, at the very least, changes in economic and political conditions played an important role in e ncouraging groups to increasingly use ballot initiatives. The following chapters present the empirical evidence found for each of these cases to evaluate the institutional process through which groups have increasingly used ballot initiatives to accomplish their political goals.
Letmon 24 Chapter 2 A Western Phenomenon : Initiatives in California California has led the way in attempting to legislate, regulate, and govern through the ballot initiative. With a population of over 37.6 million people and the 8 th l argest economy in the world, many of whole nation. More than almost every other initiative state, the citizens of California make these decisions at the ballot box. With 3 29 state wide initiatives sin ce 1912, California has the second highest rate of initiative use and was the origin of the initiative resurgence that has swept th rough the states since the 1970s. California is often the main focus of initiative studies but is more of an anomaly than the norm. For this reason California is the only high use case in this study and will be examined by itself in this chapter. in initiative history after which groups across the co untry began using the initiative for more of their legislative goals. Besides demonstrating the dramatic possibilities of legislating through ballot initiatives, Proposition 13 exacerbated developing political and institutional conditions in the state whic h encouraged groups to turn to ballot initiatives.
Letmon 25 expansion of a larger and more diverse interest group population. These groups had to compete within a legislature that h ad become highly professionalized and was often at partisan odds with the governor. On top of these circumstances, Proposition 13 further constrained the legislative process by shifting a sizable portion of local financial responsibility to the state while limiting ability to raise revenue. Rather than go through the time consuming and costly process of trying to pass legislation in a highly professionalized and organized legislature, groups turned to the initiative which can almost ensure legis lative action if the price is right. For many issues, the initiative s provided a way to ensure a place in increasingly constrained state budget. After initiative pr use since 1978. Progressive Adoption Following the Progressive tradition, direct d emocracy in California developed from outrage with a legislature steeped in corruption and deeply beholden to the railroad industry. As a state rich with resources but geographically isolated, the railroads were Southern Pacific quickly gained came political influence and by the 1890s Southern Pacific Railroad had almost complete control over policymaking in California at the sta te and local level (Lamare 1994, 6).
Letmon 26 Nothing could get past the legislature that was not in line with the interests; bribery was commonplace and Southern Pacific executives often occupied important political offices (including the governorshi p) making any internal reform next to impossible (Waters 2003, 91). By 1907, a group of reform minded leaders organized to elect Progressive members to the legislature who would then press for direct democracy reforms. The successful adoption of direct dem ocracy in California is most often attributed to Republican Governor Hiram Johnson who, after the introduction of direct primaries, successfully ran as a progressive reformer promising to overthrow Southern Pacific and put government back in the hands of t he people. With a Progressive majority in the legislature, Johnson and his party passed many reforms including the standard initiative, referendum, and recall. Ballot initiatives were ratified by special election into the state constitution in 1911 and hav e drastically shaped Californian government and politics since. Qualification Requirements As it stands today, qualifying an initiative in California is an arduous, complicated, and costly process. Despite the difficulty of qualifying and passing an ini tiative, since 1979 California has used the initiative more than any other state (IRI Historical Database 2010) The state has a direct initiative process that allows a measure to go directly from a qualified petition to the ballot 2 Groups can petition t o place new laws or amend existing ones as well as propose constitutional amendments via ballot 2 This is opposed to an indirect initiative process in which qualified measures are sent to the state legislature which can vot e to adopt a measure instead of placing it on the ballots for a public vote. Some indirect initiative states also allow the legislatures to amend the initiative before it is sent to the public.
Letmon 27 initiative. A proposed measure goes through many steps and must meet several requirements before it can be put on the ballot (Waters 2003) California only all ows single subject initiatives meaning single measure cannot address more than one subject. Before groups can petition, they must adhere to the proper procedure for writing and submitting a proposed initiative to the Attorney General and, in some cases, mu st undergo a fiscal analysis to determine how a proposal would af fect state and local government s revenues and finances. Once a measure has been titled, summarized, analyzed, and submitted to the required offices, the sponsors of the proposal have 150 d ays to circulate petitions and gather signatures. In order for a petition to qualify, petitioners must gather 5% for statutory measures or 8% for constitutional amendments of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election. Although these are not remark ably high percents, the task is enormous considering more than 9.5 million votes were cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race requiring petitioners to gather more than 475,000 signatures to qualify a statutory measure. Alternatively, California has no distribu tion requirement mandating that a certain number of signatures come from each county or district and circulators are not required to be residents. Once the circulation period is over, petitions are turned in to county elections officials who will randomly choose signatures and verify their validity. If the initiative has followed procedure and met the qualification requirements, the measure will be presented to the citizens for a vote in the next general or special election that is at least 131 days away. T requirements.
Letmon 28 Table 2.1 California Qualification Requirements Requirement California Signature Requirement 5% Statutory 8% Constitutional Amendments Signatures related to Previous gubernatorial election Di stribution Requirement None Circulation Period 150 days Single Subject Restriction Yes Signature Verification Process Random Sampling Legislative Changes Legislature cannot amend or repeal an initiative unless permitted by initiative Source: Waters 2003. Although California has a relatively low signature threshold for statutory more difficult to qualify an in it i g professional campaign industry. With enough money, any group can hire a firm to gather enough signatures to place a measure on the ballot. California was one of the first states to develop a professional campaign industry as a result of the campaigning v acuum created by progressive reforms aimed at weakening political parties who would normally (McCuan et al. 1998 ). California, and most other states, reliance on professional firms for signature gathering y episodic initiative contestant who wishes to fight in an election, whether he or she is part of the campaign industry helps explain high rates of use despite a difficu lt qualification process,
Letmon 29 but any increase in this industry merely demonstrates the increased demand for initiatives but not what has increased the demand since 1978. Trends in Use th century followed t he typical pattern of ups and downs seen in most states (see Figure 2. 1 ). The initiative saw very high use after initial adoption, then lower but consistent use until 1948 when it experienced a period of relatively low use. From 1950 to 1970 there were nev er more than four state initiatives on the ballot in any given election and only nineteen initiatives qualified in total. Although many states saw no initiatives during this time, compared to the 1910s or 1990s, this is a remarkable reduction in California saw a notable peak with initiative use consistently rising after 1978. The trend continued to escalate through the 1990s when it reached levels higher than those during the Progressive era.
Letmon 30 Figure 2.1 Frequency of California Init iative Use, 1912 2008 Source: IRI Historical Database 2010. Looking at the types of initiatives that were qual ifying for the ballot from 1978 to 2008 provides some insight into the institutional forces driving increased initiative use. Most of the initi atives in this time address at least one of the following: taxes, government administration, environmental reform and regulation, education, legal and criminal justice, business regulation, and healthcare and medicine. Other initiatives topics that appeare d more than once but not frequently enough to merit their own category include civil rights (infringements and expansions) gaming, abortion, immigration, and welfare (see Figure 2.2). 3 Compared to the three previous decades, the proportion of which topics addressed is generally consistent the two periods but the increase in the sheer amount of initiatives is striking. The exception to the similarities being increased education and healthcare initiatives that had not been used frequently prior to 1978 (see F igure 2. 3 ) 3 Many initiatives fall under more than one category but were grouped based on what the measure was fundamentally reforming or attempting to address. For example, many initiatives have provisions for raising taxes to specifically fund education but were only counted as education initiatives, not tax initiatives. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 1912 1916 1920 1924 1928 1932 1936 1939 1942 1946 1949 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972 1974 1978 1980 1984 1988 1992 1994 1998 2002 2004 2006
Letmon 31 Figure 2.2 California Ballot Initiatives by Subject 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013. Figure 2. 3 California Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1976 and 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013. By far the most common and consistently occurring measures were those that focus on government administration and the political process. Through the ballot 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 1948 1976 1978 2008
Letmon 32 initiative, Californians have attempted to limit appropriations (Prop s. 4 and 71), create an independent redist ricting committee (Prop 14), implement English only voting materials (Prop 38), limit legislative campaign contributions (Prop 68), make changing the initiative and referendum process more difficult (Prop 137), and switch to open primaries (Prop 198) 25). Even in the three decades before the initiative reemergence, regulation of the political pr ocess was still the most commonly occurring subject (just at a third of the frequency) (see Figure 2.3) While the initiative was initially intended and often used for this same purpose, the volume of initiatives seeking reform of government and political processes has increased dramatically over the past thirty years. Measures that address taxation are the second most commonly occurring initiative topic. This category includes initiatives that seek to cut taxes, set tax limits, make raising taxes institut ionally difficult, and, sometimes, even raise taxes. Proposition 13 was obviously the most notable and drastic California anti tax initiative. Proposition 13 came in response to property taxes which had risen exponentially as a result of housing expansion and expanding populations in California. Once passed, Proposition 13 cut property taxes from 2.5 percent to 1 percent of their 1975 assessed value and limited tax increases to 2 percent annually resulting in nearly $7 billion in tax cuts (Schm idt 1989 ). Pr oposition 13 not only lowered taxes but made raising taxes in the future exceedingly difficult by requiring two thirds majority vote by both chambers of the legislature in order to raise state tax rates. Examples of other tax initiatives include a measure to require a 2/3 majority voter approval for local governments to raise taxes (Prop. 62), sales
Letmon 33 tax cuts on certain food products (Prop. 163), and multiple increases on tobacco taxes (Props. 99 and 186). Tax reform initiatives like Prop. 13 shifted a signi ficant portion of local spending to the state level, partially explaining the increase in education and healthcare initiatives that have been on California ballots since 1978. Education, healthcare, and environmental initiatives make up the next group of initiatives that commonly appear on ballots. Most often these initiatives attempt to set minimum funding requirements and also include a provision for raising taxes to cover these appropriations. Education initiatives are the third most common type of init iative. In addition to often appropriating funds and raising taxes, citizens have voted on measures to mandate English only education (Prop. 227), create a school voucher program (Prop. 174), and reduce class sizes (Prop 8). Initiatives relating to healthc are have also seen a dramatic increase in recent years. The majority of these initiatives seek institutions (Prop. 63) in addition to provisions for prescription dr ug discounts (Prop. 7) and physician assisted suicide (Prop. 161). Environmental issues have also appeared frequently on ballots with groups attempting to create conservation funds (Prop.117), regulating trapping and hunting practices (Prop.4), and created protected wildlife areas (Prop. 180). Interest Groups Throughou interests have dominated the number of interest groups in California more than doubled from 374 to 855( Gray and Lowery 1996 ; Gray et al. 2005 ) In ever
Letmon 34 increasing numbers these groups have used the initiative to further their cause or protect their economic interest by appealing directly to voters. This drastic expansion in interest group activity is due in the traditional industries like mining, ranching, railroads, and agriculture were joined by more diverse service, leisure, and high economy (Ge rston and Christenson 2003, 41). Each of these new industries formed their own groups to protect and further their interest through policy. As demonstrated in Figure 2.4, the number of registered groups serving economic interests grew dramatically from 374 in 1975 to 1122 in 1997 ( Boehmke 2005; Gray et al. 2005 ) Regulations and taxes can have tremendous impact on the profits of industries like banking, insurance, healthcare, and energy corporations making their involvement in government and politics a busi ness necessity With the exception of gaming and insurance initiatives, relatively few measures from 1978 to 2000 have protection of a narrow economic interest as their primary, and obvious, goal. Trade associations and unions are also major contributors t o campaigns and political spending. Groups like the California Teachers Association, the California Medical Association, and the California State Employees Association are some of the largest campaign contributors in the state and serve to protect their in terests from undesirable regulations and spending cuts.
Letmon 35 Figure 2 4 California Economic and Citize n Interest Groups 1975, 1980, 1990 and 1997 Source: Gray and Lowery 1996 ; Gray et al. 2005; Boehmke 2007 More and more citizen interest groups were eme rging and mobilizing in the 1970s all working to affect policy through legislative lobbying and ballot in itiatives. Between 1975 and 1997 the number of groups serving nonprofit, social and government groups increased from 185 to 634 (see Figure 2.4). Propo sition 13 and its constraining fiscal effects on local governments, also contributed to the significant increase of governmental groups vying for money and influence in California. Local governments, school districts and other local agents became increasin gly dependent on state resources and groups like the League of California Cities, the California School Boards Association, and the California State Association of Counties to ensure funding for vital local services (Michael and Walters 2002, 24; Gerston a nd Christenson 2003, 44). As more groups organized and sought to influence state legislation, they faced increased competition with one another. At the same time that more groups were working within the legislature, increasing professionalization made it harder and more expensive to ensure favorable votes on an issue and initiatives provided a legislative alternative. 374 524 855 1122 185 250 493 634 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1975 1980 1990 1997 Economic Citizen
Letmon 36 Legislative Professionalism Due to such strong big business influence and weak party organization, orically quite weak, inefficient, and lacking the legislature consists of an 80 member Assembly and a 40 member Senate who serve two and 6 year terms, respectively. Unti l 1966 it met for short sessions once every two years giving legislators very little time to study, debate, and vote on important legislation. Low salaries attracted corruptible candidates who were not policy minded and, without staff, undertaking importan t and complicated issues was impossible. They were reliant on the executive and interest groups for research and information vital to the legislative process (Lamare 1994, 113). Lack of competition for undesirable seats and a weak party system made it eas their interests (Michael and Walters 2002, 7). A series of events exposing the persistent influence of interest groups in Sacramento throughout the 1950s and 1960s, led lawmak ers to take steps towards professionalizing the legislature (Michael and Walters 2002, 14). In 1966, the legislature referred Proposition 1A to voters for approval which amended the constitution to modernize the legislature by increasing the number and qu ality of legislative staff, improving the salary and benefits of legislators, and lengthening legislative sessions (Lamare 1994, 113). These changes hoped to create a legislature that could fully handle the complex and time consuming issues that burdened t he state. Salaries were raised in order to entice quality candidates and allow members to completely focus on their legislative responsibilities. The pay increase also reflected the
Letmon 37 increase in workload given to legislators who were now working full time, meeting annually for more than 200 days a year (Gerston and Christenson 2003). Ac cording to lative professionalism scores, California has always been well above the national average but has become significantly more profes s ional since 19 63 (see Table 2. 2 ) Table 2.2 California Legislative Professionalism Scores California Mean 1963 1964 .410 .164 1973 1974 .752 .251 1983 1984 .869 .257 1993 1994 .900 .260 Source : King 2000 ore off as it became clear that professionalization did not decrease the influence of special interests and money in politicians and lawmaking were still for sale in Ca lifornia which led to the arrest and conviction of several lawmakers and legislative aides (Gladstone and Jacobs 1994, Wieland 2008). Despite this, legislative salaries and staff continued to grow, members earning $90,000 to 95,000 a year, mak ing them the highest paid state legislators in the US. However, rather than make California legislators less reliant on interest groups, by making their positions financially desirable, candidates fight harder to stay in office and drive up the cost of cam paign s. The c ost of influence has gone up but with so many groups providing th ese resources, that influence has been diluted. Spending on
Letmon 38 ballot initiatives have become a more cost effective way of influencing policy with so many interest groups competing in a more expensive and professional legislature. Divided Government Scholars have found that divided government, which can lead to gridlock and legislative frustration, contributes to higher rates of initiative use (Banducci 1998). Before delving int its progressive past and history of direct primaries, cross filing, and unlisted parties, strong par ty organization and identification never rea lly developed (Van Vechten 2012 ). As a result, party division between the branches may have less significance in California than it would in a state with a history of stronger parties. tionship with party identification can be seen in who has held control over the legislature and executive over the past 40 years. Democrats have dominated the legislature with a continuous Senate majority since 1970. Except for a brief period from 1995 to 1996, the Assembly has also been held by a Democratic majority (see Table 2.3). However, after Proposition 13, an elusive 2/3 supermajority was required to pass any tax increases which somewhat weakened the Democratic majority advantage. While Democrats co ntinuously controlled the Legislature, Republicans have had much more luck holding the Executive. The Governorship has moved back and forth between Democrats and Republicans since 1975. Democrats have consistently dominated b oth chambers of the legislatur e. Divided government may have slightly exacerbated legislative difficulties but not as much as they would if the houses were closely divided..
Letmon 39 Table 2.3 California Partisan Composition 1975 2006 Year Governor Senate Assembly 1975 1983 Jerry Brown (D) 1 5/25 25/55 14/26 23/57 15/25 30/50 17/23 32/48 1983 1991 George Deukmejian (R) 15/25 32/48 15/25 33/47 15/24 36/44 15/24 33/47 1991 1999 Pete Wilson (R) 13/26 32/47 14/23 31/48 17/21 40/39 16/23 37/43 1999 2003* Gray Davis (D) 15/25 32/47 13/26 29/50 15/25 32/48 2003 2011 Arnold Swarzengegger(R) 15/25 32/48 15/25 32/48 n/a n/a n/a n/a Source : Klarner 2003 Budget Constraint Balancing the California budget has been one of the most challenging tasks the Calif Proposition 13 placed on local governments shifted most of the financial burden to the state and subsequent tax breaks and appropriations limitations have further exacerbated th e problem. From 1977 to 2007, the share of state and local revenue collect by property taxes dropped from 28 to 13 percent (Barbour 2007). County governments were most
Letmon 40 affected by the impact of Proposition 13 as nearly 75% of their own source revenue was c ollected through property taxes but by 2002 it acc ounted for only 33%. After Proposition 13 passed, the state intervened by supplementing the lost revenues of schools and local governments with aid. These groups now joined businesses and other interests in Sacramento lobbying for a share of the state budget. Because the legislature and local governments were strictly limited on how they could raise taxes, groups turned to ballot initiatives to raise essential revenue. The number of initiatives that include provisions for raising taxes or allocating funds for a particular purpose or program has increased significantly over the past 30 years. From of the 188 initiatives since 1979 44 have included tax or allocations earmarks. These types of measures show a l ack of confidence in the state legislature to appropriately balance the budget and fund vital programs and contribute to the increase in initiative use seen since Proposition 13 was passed in 1978. Since the 1970s as the economy was growing, expanding, an d becoming more complex so was the state government. In order to meet the increasing demands of a complicated. Although the state was increasingly limited in how it could rais e revenue, from 1985 to 2005 total state expenditures grew from $44.47 billion to $159.716 billion, significantly more than any other state (National Association of State Budget Officers, 2013) With such large amounts of money at stake, groups increasingl y used the initiative to stake a claim in the budget through appropriating measures or try and reduce it with tax cutting initiatives.
Letmon 41 Conclusion Over the past thirty years, California has used the initiative more than any other state. After several ye ars of very few initiatives, property tax slashing Proposition 13 precipitated an enormous increase in initiative use. However, the sudden increase in initiative use that followed Proposition 13 came in response to a number of economic and political condit economy expanded and diversified bringing new industry and interests to the state. In addition to these new economic interests, the social movements of the 1960s spurred the growth of p ublic interest citizen groups in the state giving California one of the largest interest group populations during this period. professional campaign industry, while not an explanatory factor for the increased demand for initiatives, certainly made increase easier. Additionally, b y the 1980s and 1990s, these groups had to compete for influence within a legislature that was increasingly professional, consistently divided, and under growing budgetary duress. A more professio nal legislature meant that, at the very least, it was now considerably more expensive to buy influence in the form of expensive campaign contributions but also created a more complicated and formal legislative process less reliant on groups, themselves, fo r information. While Proposition 13 did reintroduce the initiative to California politics, it also made the traditional route through the legislature more difficult by shifting much of the local financial burden to the state and creating even more intere sts to compete with. With the budget now legally constrained, groups turned to the initiative to ensure their interests making abilities was
Letmon 42 deflating. Alternatively, for groups that were fr expanding expenditures despite the existing limits, the initiative provided a way to cut taxes and attempt to limit spending by starving the beast. The combination of a growing interest group population and a hig hly professionalize legislature on top of the system shocking budgetary effects of Proposition 13, California was in a prime position to i n c r e a s i n g l y t u r n t o b a l l o t i n i t i a t i v e s It is important to remember that while California is often the first state scholars point to when discussing ballot ini tiatives, it is in just about every way an extreme example. Its economy, geographic size, population, initiative use, professionalism and interest group populations are outliers compared to most other states that use initiatives. While its extreme circums tances make it an interesting case to examine, it is not representative of the initiative process and politics as they occur in most other states.
Letmon 43 Chapter 3 Coast to Coast: Moderate Initiative Use in Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington While many states have experienced an increase in initiative use, few come close to Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington have undergone a more moderate increase in initiative use over the past thirty years that is more repre sentative of the experience of other initiative states Each of these states has experienced a similar increase in use despite being separated by thousands of miles. This chapter compares the economic and political conditions in the more moderate use stat es of Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington in order to evaluate how development of interest groups, legislative professionalism, divided government, and budgetary constraint have interacted in these states to affect initiative use. Arizona Arizona is rarely the focus of initiative scholars but over the past fifty years the state has undergone drastic economic, political, and demographic transformation that has significantly affected its initiative use Until the 1960s, Arizona was a one party
Letmon 44 Democrat state dominated by just a few large industries. With the economic development brought by World War II and the advent of central air conditioning, Arizona became an rapid economic and demographic growth and diversific ation. From 1950 to 1990, Arizona was the second fastest growing state in the nation with the population more than quadrupling from 750,000 to 3.5 million as new industry beckoned large immigrant populations and a warmer climate brought northern and mid we stern retirees (Berman 1998, 8). Today, the state has a population of over 6.5 million and Phoenix has become the 6 th most populous city in the US (US Census Bureau 2010) This rapid demographic change accompanied by economic transformation has created a c omplex political environment characterized by contrasts and torn between emerging and diverse interests that have increasingly used the initiative to accomplish their policy goals. Like California, Arizona has experienced t he legislative complexities that accompany larger interest group populations, professionalization, and divided government circumstances were similarly made even more difficult by Republican legislatures fond of constra ining tax cuts and spending limitations throughout the 1980s and 1990s. After these institutional developments over the past thirty years encouraged groups to bypass the legislature and increasingly use ballot initiatives. Progressive Adoption Unlike many states that fought for the addition of the initiative process to their constitution, Arizona fought for direct democracy while still writing it. Arizona was the last contiguous state t o enter the Union in 1912, having experienced fifty years of
Letmon 45 territorial occupation by the federal governme nt. During that time, from 1850 to 1912, Arizona had very few elected officials with almost every office, including governor, secretary of state, sen instilled a cultu ral contempt for outsider interference that has been manifested throughout state constitution but required Congressional and Presidential approval as conditions for s tatehood. Intense debate over the inclusion of progressive reforms stalled the process, but eventually Progressive reformers got their way in 1912 when the Arizona Constitution became the 48 th and utilized its provisions for the initiative process extensively to address a variety of issues. Qualification Requirements Qualifying an initiative in Arizona is neither a particularly easy nor difficult process comparatively (see Table 3.1 ). Citize ns may directly initiate both statutory and constitutional amendments that satisfy the single subject requirement. Once the Secretary of State has the initiative on file, groups can begin circulating petitions. From that point, petitioners have two years to gather the necessary number of signatures: 10% of votes cast for governor in the previous and 15% for a constitutional amendment. More than 1.7 173 000 signatures for a statutory initiative and 259,000 signatures for a constitutional amendment. The state has no distribution requirement but until 2008, when it was
Letmon 46 overturned by federal courts, required that those circulating petitions be state residents. Local elections officials verify a random sample of the signatures and if the required number is met, the Secretary of State will set the ballot title and summary of the initiative that will appear on the next ballot that is at least 60 days from the next election. If an fourths vote by members of each house (Waters 2003, 71). Table 3.1 Arizona Qualification Requirements Requirement Arizona Signature Requirement 10% Statutory 15% Constitutional Amendments Signatures related to Previous gubernatorial election Distribution Requirement None Circulation Period 2 years Single Subject Restriction Yes Signature Verification Process Random Sampling Legislative Changes Legislature cannot repeal an initiative but can amend under strict circumstances Source : Waters 2003. Arizona has a high signature threshold for both statutory and constitutional amendment initiatives which may prevent qua lification of some initiatives but this difficulty is somewhat offset by the long circulation period and lack of distribution requirement. derable rates at the same time initiative use was increasing, it does not seem that the signature requirements have much
Letmon 47 well funded groups are able to overcome these requirements by employing paid si few densely populated areas. How the initiative has been used in Arizona provides some insight into what groups have turned to the initiative over the past thirty years. Trends in Use varied considerably over the course of the 20 th century following the characteristic of ups and downs seen in many other initiative states. When it first achieved statehood, Arizona had considerably high initiative use reaching its highpoint in 1914 with 1 5 initiatives in a single election. These early initiatives were used protections. Throughout the 1920s the number of initiatives dropped but regained higher numbers in the 1930s but reached its second highest point in 1950 with 12 total initiatives. Use remained low but consistent, averaging 1.5 initiatives (ranging from 0 to 4) per election, from 1952 to 1990 when the number of initiatives nearly doubled. One reason for t population making qualification suddenly and significantly more difficult. These trends in number of initiatives appearing on the ballot are presented in Figure 3.1 While Arizona h as seen a significant increase in initiative use since 1978, it has been less dramatic and for different issues than in California.
Letmon 48 Figure 3.1 Frequency of Arizona Initiative Use, 1912 2008 Source: Initiative and Referendum Institute, 2010. There has b een a wide variety of topics addressed by Arizona initiatives over the past 30 years ranging from standard subjects such as the introduction of legislative term limits and limiting smoking in public to more uncommon, and slightly bizarre, topics such as le galization of cockfighting and a creating a lottery to encourage voting. Breaking the subjects down into seven broad categories (government, taxes, education, law/criminal justice, environment/wildlife, business regulation/labor, healthcare) helps to gain a better understanding of what issues groups turned to the initiative for The initiatives that do not fall neatly into these categories include issues such as abortion (Prop 110), marr iage equality (Prop 106) and numerous gaming measu res (Prop s 200, 20 1, 200, 201 and 202). Fig ure 3.2 shows how frequently different subjects have appeared on Arizona ballots from 1978 2008. The subjects of government, environment, and healthcare are most commonly addressed by Arizona initiatives and refl ect the new political concerns of its growing population and diversified economy. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 1912 1916 1920 1924 1926 1930 1934 1938 1942 1946 1950 1954 1958 1962 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008
Letmon 49 Figu re 3. 2 Arizona Initiatives by Subject, 1978 2008 Source: NSCL State Ballot Measures Database 2013, Figure 3. 3 Arizona Initiatives by Subject 1948 1976 and 1978 2008 Source: NSCL State Ballot Measures Database 2013, 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 1948 1976 1978 2008
Letmon 50 Again, as in California, ballot initiatives are most commonly used to address subjects related to the administration of government. At first glance, this would seem to reflect a particularly progressive mo tivation for using the initiative but upon closer examination, these initiatives seek changes across a wide range of ideological motivations, both left and right. The more typically progressive issues addressed after 1978 include creating motor voter progr am (Prop 202), shortening state office term limits (Prop 107), protecting initiatives from legislative meddling (Prop 105), creating an independent redistricting commission (Prop 106) and limiting campaign spend ing (Prop 200). Arizonan s have also used the initiative to alter government administration official language (Prop 106) and 2004 law (Prop 200). These types of initiatives further re demographic character and the initiative provides an avenue to address issues that representative in a diverse state would be politically disinclined to address. The second most commonly occurring initiativ e subject is healthcare. Over the retiree population which has made healthcare a popular initiative subject in the state (Smith 1996). Of the nine that have appeared in 197 8, four have been related to regulating smoking in public or allocating tobacco litigation mon ey for healthcare programs (Prop s 200, 204, 201, 206), two have sought to regulate or implement affordable healthcare (Props 110, 200), two allocate appropriate funds to healthcare programs (Prop 203, 203), and one recent initiative sought to prohibit any government from restricting choices on healthcare plans (Prop 101). Most of these aim at increasing
Letmon 51 healthcare spending to meet the demands of a state with a large aging population growing demands of a changing population Alternatively, in a state with where healthcare is particularly important because of its large retiree population, increasingly powerful healthcare industries turned to initiatives to increa se spending in their sector. metropolitan areas but surrounded by largely unpopulated wilderness, it is understandable that environmental and wildlife issues are frequently addressed initiative subjects. Between 1978 and 2008 Arizona had initiatives to provide refunds for recycled beverage containers, increase funds for parks and wildlife services, establish waste management plans, and numerous measures attempted to limit hun ting and trapping procedures. The which probably contributed to environmental interests using initiatives, more often than tax or business initiatives. Somewhat surprisi ng in a state with a strong Republican base is that while initiatives are used to address tax issues, they appear less frequently than both healthcare reform ballot i Proposition 13, failed to pass with 70% voting against it. This failure was due in part to an earlier legislative tax reform package that was passed by referendum that reduced property ta xes and limited spending but included slightly less drastic cuts and limitations (Hudson 1980). Until 2008, the only other tax initiatives to appear were an amendment requiring a 2/3 legislative majority to increase taxes in 1992 (Prop 108 ) an increase o n cigarette taxes (Prop 200), and a measure that would give federal candidates for office
Letmon 52 the opportunity to pledge to support eliminating federal income tax (Prop 202). The absence of lots of tax initiatives can be partly attributed to Republican domin ance of the legislature for almost every session from 1978 to 2008. These term limited Republicans implemented tax cuts that preempted anti tax initiatives that were numerous in states where the legislature was under more Democratic control. Th is Republica n dominance of past fifty years that has resulted in other groups turning to initiatives more often. Interest Groups Although Arizona has not seen a particularly large increase in interest groups, economic development and demographic change since World War II has led to the are used. For much of the 20 th century, Arizona was dominated by just a few, very strong interests often referred to as ests had little to no competition and controlled the Democratic P arty which held one party control over state government well into th e 1960s. Defense spending during World War II combined with new climate controlling abilities of air conditioning, turned Arizona into one of the fastest growing states as military men who had been stationed their during the War returned to work and mid we stern retirees attrac ted by the climate moved to interest group population agricultural industries to manufactur ing, construction, banking, defense, and tourism metropolitan areas surrounded by desert wilderness, water and electric utilities became
Letmon 53 particularly vital in Arizona. As a retirement mecca with a large elderly population, healthcare also emerged as a strong and important interest which can be seen in the ten healthcare initiatives i n Arizona between 1978 and 2008. By 1975, with 426 registered interest groups (see Figure 3.4) Arizona had more groups than almost every other state ranking third behind California and Florida (Gray and Lowery 1996). By 1997 t he number of interest groups had increased to 737. Growth in economic interest groups accounts for the majority of th e increase until 1990 but citizen groups increased to nearly half of the population by 1997. While this expansion of both economic and citizen groups is significant, alone do not explain its increased initiative use over the past thirty years but must be considered in combination with other political and institutional changes during this time. Figure 3.4 Arizona Economic and Citizen Interest Groups 1975, 1980, 1990 and 1997 Source: Gray and Lowery 1996, Gray et al. 2005, Boehmke 2007 304 337 439 490 119 107 154 247 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 1975 1980 1990 1997 Economic Citizen
Letmon 54 Legislative Professionalism changes that sought to improve the quality of both policy and policymakers. The legislature consists of a 30 member Senate a nd 60 member House of Representatives. In 1951 the legislature began meeting in annually in 100 day sessions. Legislatures only began earning salaries in 1968 and before that there was a huge incentive for lawmakers to conclude early, around 60 days, in or der to return to the ir regular employment (Berman 1998, 99). F ollowing the national trend, legislators began earning a salary for their work for $6,000 per year. Salaries were raised again in 1981 to $15,000 and finally, in 1998 voters approved the current (2000) Legislative Professionalism index from 1963 more professional and slightly exceeded the national mea n for each year tested. Table 3 2 c to the national mean. Table 3.2 Arizona Legislative Professionalism Scores Arizona Mean 1963 1964 .183 .164 1973 1974 .292 .251 1983 1984 .351 .257 1993 1994 .279 .260 Source: King 2000 Although the legislature has become more professional it is not a fully professionalized body. Members must still rely on outside employment for income and
Letmon 55 only have a limited session to accomplish their legislative goals. By 1992 there was still a strong push by the Republican dominated legislature to redu ce the agenda in order to ensure the session was under the 100 day limit (Berman 1998, 99). Arizona voters also approved a 1992 initiative which limited state legislator s to serving only four consecutive terms, eight years total which can serve to undermi ne the advantages of professionalizing the legislature. The call for term limits was partly in response to a corruption s candal in the early 1990s which capabilities. In 1991 seven legislators, including the chair of the House Ethic s Committee, were indicted for accepting bribes from undercover police agents (Berman 1998, 105). AzScam, as the scandal was called, in combination with continuous struggles government as a whole during the late 1980s and 1990s. Divided Government demographic shift that has occurred over the past fifty years. Prior World War II, Arizona was practically a one party system. With more than 80% of voters registered for the Democratic Party from 1946 1950, the Republican Party stood little chance in any election (Berman 1998, 58). After the war and with the advent of air conditioning, Arizona experienced a mass migration of Midwestern retirees and veterans who had been stationed in the Southwest which, along with strong Republican candidates, contributed y the 1980s, the Democratic registration advantage had diminished and Republicans were in control of the legislature. Republicans have controlled the house by a large majority since 1978. Except for two
Letmon 56 sessions from 1991 1992 when Democrats had a four sea t majority and 2001 2002 when the seats were evenly split, the Senate has also been under Republican control but occasionally by a smaller margin (Klarner 2003). Although Republicans have been almost entirely in control of the Legislature for the past 30 exceptional succession circumstances 4 while serving as Attorney General Democrat Republican Evan Mecha m was elected in 1986 but was the first US governor to be indicted, impeached, and recalled from office all at once and left office in 1988 (Berman 1998). Mecham won his election largely the result of a third party candidate and while in office faced stron g opposition from the legislature, was strongly criticized for several racist and homophobic comments, and was charged for violating campaign finance laws. He was succeeded by Democratic Secretary of State Rose Mofford but did not run for reelection. In 19 92, Republican Fife Symington was elected, and although he made it through his first term and was reelected, he resigned before the end of his second term was reelected and served until 2003 when Democrat Janet Na politano was elected. Table 3. 3 2008. government was divided between the branches, its Republican dominance of the legislature serves to exp 4 In Arizona, the Secretary of State is first in line if the Governor can no longer serve. In 1978, then Secretary of State, Rose Mofford had been appointed to her position so could not assume the office when Governor Wesley Bolin died in office. Next in line was Attorney General, Bruce Babbit.
Letmon 57 any frustra tion experienced by the division. Table 3 3 Arizona Partisan Composition 1978 2009 Year Governor House R / D Senate R / D 1978 1987 Bruce Babbitt (D ) 42 /18 16/14 43/17 16/14 39/21 18/12 38/22 18/12 1987 1988 Evan Mecham (R) 36/24 19/11 198 8 1990 Rose Mofford (D) 34/26 17/13 1991 1997 Fife Symington (R) 33/27 13/17 35/25 18/12 38/22 19/11 1997 2003 Jane Dee Hull (R) 38/22 18/12 40/20 16/14 24/36 15/15 2003 2009 Janet Napolitano (D) 39/21 17/13 38/22 18/12 33/27 17/13 S ource: Klarner 2003. Budget Constraint Over the past thirty years, Arizona has struggled to balance the increasing demands on state funds with the unrelenting and popular calls for lower taxes. In the end, with a largely conservative electorate and Repu blicans dominating the legislature,
Letmon 58 Arizona answered the call for lower taxes. Proposition 13 and the national tax revolts played an important role in motivating the Arizona legislature to cut property taxes again and again. In 1980, in an effort to preemp t a ballot initiative on the subject, legislators passed a constitutional amendment which limited property taxes. Although less drastic than the initiative that failed to pass later that year, the tax cuts still had a significant effect on local government s with counties and school districts feeling the heaviest blow. Almost all of local funding for Arizona schools came from property taxes with the rest generated by state and federal aid. Counties also depended heavily on the revenue from property taxes whi ch in 1976 accounted for 76% of all self generated revenue for county government but fell to 39% by 1986. Prior to 1982, counties were responsible for providing low income healthcare services was no longer feasible following the 1980 property tax cuts comb ined with rising healthcare costs and necessitated the development of a state funded program instead (Berman 1998, 154). Further tax measures throughout the 1990s only compounded the problem and shifted more and more of the financial burden to the state. With an undivided Republican government from 1993 to 2003, legislators continued to slash property and income taxes both income and property taxes by $200 million each (B erman 1998, 157). In 1992, Arizona voters enthusiastically passed an initiative that required a 2/3 majority vote for legislation that would raise taxes. These measures combined severely constrained the ability of the state and local governments to provid e esse ntial services and as a result came from federal money but had risen to 24 percent by 1996 (Berman 1998). With a
Letmon 59 significant portion of their revenue no longer avai lable, local governments, schools, hospitals, and other local agencies were now competing with businesses and other interest groups for a bigger piece of the state budget pie. Conclusion Since World War II Arizona has undergone significant economic and p olitical changes that have encouraged increased initiative. Expansion of new industries in Arizona and enticing climate brought millions of new people and interests with increased demands for services and influence. This influx of Midwestern immigrants tur ned Arizona into a state dominated by Republican voters but growing more diverse and complex and in need of greater government services. The legislature had become increasingly professional in order to meet the increased demands, but it became more difficu lt for any particular interest to have unchecked control over it. The state saw comparatively few tax reducing initiatives because its term limited Republican legislators were more sympathetic to tax cuts and groups did not have to go to the ballot to get them. These budgetary constraints made it harder for other interests, like healthcare and the environment that were growing more important in a rapidly populating and aging state to secure legislation and funding Instead of going through the legislature, t hese interests did increasingly turn to initiatives throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Arizona is the only high use initiative state in this study to have a Republican controlled legislature and unsuccessful tax reform initiatives. The following chapter ex amines conditions in more moderate use and left leaning states.
Letmon 60 Massachusetts There are many ways in which Massachusetts stands out from its initiative counterparts. Massachusetts is one of only six states east of the Mississippi River that provides for some kind of statewide initiative process and only one of two in the Northeast/New England. 5 As the sixth state to enter the union, Massachusetts is the oldest initiative state with a political tradition hundreds of years older than most initiative states Massachusetts also only allows for indirect initiatives and has strict restrictions on what subjects cannot be put on ballot measures. Despite these differences, Massachusetts initiative use has followed much of the same pattern of increase seen in many other initiative states over the past thirty years. In 1980, Massachusetts passed its own drastic tax reform ballot initiative, Proposition 2 and subsequently witnessed a jump in initiative use. Because Massachusetts does not allow initiatives that app ropriate funds, most of its increased initiative use came only in the form of tax cutting initiatives by interests frustrated with taxing and spending levels of a well paid and consistently Democrat dominated legislature. Economic growth also spurred signi ficant increase in increasing budget limitations, made ballot initiatives a more attractive option throughout the 1980s and 1990s but restrictions on the types of initiativ es allowed has limited the increase in initiatives. 5 Michigan, Maine, Arkansas, Florida and Mississippi are the others. Florida and Mississippi only allow for initiative constitutional amendments and Mississippi has only used the initiative twice since adoption.
Letmon 61 Progressive Adoption For the state that can boast of founding the first written newspaper, college, public high school, and public library in the nation and has the oldest functioning written constit ution in the world, the initiative is a relatively recent invention (Hogarty 2002). At the beginning of the 20 th century it would seem, with its well established political institutions and large immigrant population, that Massachusetts was not the ideal se tting for direct democracy. However, beginning with colonial town meetings, the state had a long history of responsive and participatory democracy that made the progressive calls for direct democracy less radical and threatening than they were in other Eas tern party dominated states (Abrams 1960, Bridges and Kousser 2001). Before 1900, Massachusetts was already accustomed to the labor protections, corporate regulations, and political checks sought after by Progressive reformers years later (Abrams 1960). Ev en so, after years of organizing and unsuccessfully attempts, Massachusetts progressives successfully passed an amendment providing for the initiative and referendum at a 1917 constitutional convention that was narrowly approved by voters in 1918 ( Waters 2003 ). However, conservative and railroad interests were strong enough to amend the process in such a R I Massachusetts 2013 ). This difficulty a ccounted for the relatively low initiative use throughout most of the 20 th century until initiatives appeared more frequently beginning in the 1980s. Qualification Requirements The complicated and difficult process for placing a measure on the ballot in Massachusetts includes many steps and requirements not found in m any other states (see
Letmon 62 Table 3.4 ) As an indirect initiative process, all Massachusetts initiatives are submitted to the legislature, the General Court, before they can appe ar on the ballot a t which point legislature can choose to enact, defeat, or amend a measure. But even before a proposition reaches the legislature ten qualified voters, who have obtained and presented certificates of voter registration signed by three registrars, must sign a nd submit a petition that states the full text of the measure to the Attorney general. The Attorney General checks the content of the initiative making sure that the measure is not substantially the same as any measure that qualified at either of two prece ding biennial state elections (Waters 2003). Massachusetts also has strict subject requirements and does not allow Declaration of Rights or specific appropr iations (Waters 2003). This has limited the extent of Massachusetts increased initiative use. Many states, in response to tax cutting initiatives, also saw an increase in appropriating measures for education, healthcare, and the environment but initiatives cannot appropriate funds in Massachusetts. In order to qualify a measure to be submitted to the legislature, petitioners must collect 3% of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election with no more than a quarter of all votes coming from a single c ounty (approximately 69,000 votes based on the 2010 election) If the measure is not approved by the General Court, proponents can request the Secretary of State to petition place the measure on the ballot by gathering an additional .5% of votes cast in la st gubernatorial election with the same distribution requirement. All signatures are verified by local elections officials. With a three fourths affirmative vote by both the House and Senate, the legislature can amend or repeal an initiative. Massachusetts does not provide for constitutional amendment initiatives.
Letmon 63 Table 3. 4 Massachusetts Qualification Requirements Requirement Massachusetts Signature Requirement 3% to submit bill to the Legislature; an additional .5% to submit to voters if legislature do es not adopt Signatures related to Previous gubernatorial election Distribution Requirement Yes; no more than a quarter of all votes from one county Circulation Period 64 days Single Subject Restriction No Signature Verification Process All signature s are verified by a majority of local elections officials Legislative Changes Legislature can repeal or amend an initiative with majority vote Source : Waters 2003 Trends in Use For most of the 20 th icated initiative procedure discouraged or prevented many initiatives from making it on the ballot. Between adoption in 1918 and 2008, 69 initiatives have appeared on the ballot with 41 of these occurring since 1978 (see Figure 3. 5 ). Compared to high use s tates like California or Arizona, Massachusetts has hardly used the initiative. Except for a slight peak in 1948 and 1950, there were never more than one or two initiatives on any one ballot until the 1970s. Beginning in 1976 and continuing through the 198 0s and 90s initiative use increased significantly, reaching its highest point in 1994 with seven initiatives. Most states that saw an increased of initiative after a period of low use were merely returning to levels seen during the Progressive Era but Mass achusetts was mostly
Letmon 64 discovering the initiative for the first time While it still only uses the initiative moderately, its growth is notable considering it is the only metropolitan The types of subjects that have appeared most frequently on Massachusetts ballots give some indication of what groups were doing the discovering. Figure 3.5 Frequency of Massachusetts Initiative Use, 1918 2008 Source: NCSL database By far the most common initiative subject is taxes (see Figure 3. 6 ). The number of tax initiati ves is more than double any other subject. This trend began in 1980 with the passage of Proposition 2 appearing on the ballot as Question 3. Proposition 2 was reduc ing of property tax levies in the state to 2.5% of the fair market value. After that, Massachusetts voters have decided on repealing surtax in 1986, reforming income taxes in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2008, and increasing tobacco taxes and oil in 19 92 through the initiative (NCSL Ballot Measure Database 2013 ). Since Massachusetts does 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Letmon 65 not allow initiatives that appropriate funds, tax cutting initiatives were not met with the fund allocating initiatives that made up a lot of the increase in California and Arizona. Initiatives addressing the environment, government, and business/labor are the next most common subject. They also closely resemble the standard government, environment, and business initiatives found in most other states. Surprisingly, the re has only been one education initiative in 2002 requiring English only education and one healthcare initiative in 2000 which established a state Health Care Council to oversee legislation to improve the healthcare system. As a large number of education a nd healthcare initiatives in other states serve to appropriate funds for certain programs, it is limitations prohibiting appropriations measures. Figure 3. 6 Massachus etts Initiatives by Subject, 1978 2008 Source : NCSL Ballot Mea sures Database 2013. Only sixteen initiatives made it on ballots between 1948 and1977 with the greatest majority addres sing labor issues. Figure 3. 7 further demonstrates the increase in 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Letmon 66 use wi tnessed since 1978 when compared to the previous thirty years by subject. Tax initiatives and the environment saw most of the increase Figure 3.7 Massachusetts Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1977 and 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013 Interest Groups Massachusetts has a longer history of economic and political change than any other initiative state. By the mid nineteenth century, Massachusetts had a thriving industrial economy with textile mills, leather tanneries, shoe factories, an d fishing fleets while its Western initiative counterparts were still largely reliant on agriculture, natural resource extraction, and railroad industries (Hogarty 2002). Politically, interests were reliant on the party machine to artic ulate and control pu blic policy and interest groups were relatively weak compared to the industry domination of the state legislatures in western states like California and Arizona (Berg 1993, 168). In the last half of the 20 th 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 1948 1977 1978 2008
Letmon 67 s, turned towards more service oriented industries with financial services, healthcare, high tech education, consulting, and tourism driving the Massachusetts economy today (Hogarty 2002, 1). Over the past 30 [was] one of the most important changes in party organizations have weakened and been replaced by these new interest group that have grown in number, diversity, and str ength over the past thirty years (Berg 1993, 174). The number of registered interest groups grew from 243 in 1975 to 733 by 1997 with increased numbers of economic interest groups accounting for most of the growth (Gray and Lowery 1996, Boehkme 2005 Gray et al. 2005 ) (see Figure 3. 8 ). However, compared to other states, Massachusetts has a high density but low diversity interest group population 6 (Gray and Lowery 1994). This increased competition for legislative resources and attention has led to higher le vels of gridlock and conflict laden politics (Gray and Lowery 1994). 6 Gray y and Lowery (1994) define interest group diversity by looking at the that proportion of noneconomic to economic interest groups and find that states with large and non diverse interest group populations experience higher levels of legislative gridloc k because more groups are competing for similar legislative resources and attention.
Letmon 68 Figure 3. 8 Massachusetts Economic and Citizen Interest Groups 1975, 1980, 1990 1997 Source : Gray and Lowery 1996, Boehmke 2007 Gray et al. 2005. The increase interest groups led t o increased competition for resources and political parties to define the terms of political conflict, groups are more likely to find themselves opposed by other gro ups, so that no single interest can be seen as all powerful (1993, 174). These new groups, facing more competition and a legislature overwhelmed with new interests, developed new tactics that bypassed the legislature. This can be seen in the coinciding gr owth in interest groups between 1980 and 1990 and the increased initiative use of the 1990s. Legislative Professionalism The increase in tax cutting and governmental reform initiatives is due in part to conditions in the legislature frustrating the publ i government. The General Court of Massachusett well established and 181 269 506 596 62 100 167 137 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 1975 1980 1990 1997 Economic Citizen
Letmon 69 professional state legislatures in the country. It consists of a 40 member House of Representatives and a Senate with 160 mem bers each facing reelection every two years. Since 1963, Massachusetts has had one of the top ten most professional legislatures with year session (see Table 3. 5 ). Tab le 3. 5 Massachusetts Legislative Professionalism Scores Year Massachusetts Mean 1963 1964 444 .164 1973 1974 .467 .251 1983 1984 .469 .257 1993 1994 .333 .260 Source: King 2000 the 1970s and the acceptance of illegal gratuities in the early 1990s have combined to (Hogarty 2002, 51). An initiative to introduce term limits was approved by voters in 1994 but was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by a state court which further alienated the state government from the public (Rimer 1997).
Letmon 70 Divided Government While the governorship has shifted between Democrats and Republicans over the past 30 years, the Democratic Party has dominated the Massachusetts General Court since it first gained the majority in 1958 (Ho garty 2002). Throughout 1970s and 1980s, legislative elections were largely uncompetitive with most Democrats running uncontested (Berg 1993, 171). The success of Republican gubernatorial candidates in the 1990s did bring with it increased Republican chall engers but had little to no effect on the competitive and Republicans successfully held the offic e from 1991 to 2007 (see T able 3 .6 ). Republican gubernatorial success re sulted in an extended period of divided government between the executive and legislative branches. It is true that Massachusetts Republicans tend to lean left on social issues, but the tax and budget problems throughout the 1990s and 2000s were strongly d ivided along party lines making necessary budgetary decisions between Republican governors and the Democratic General Court difficult. This period of divided government also coincides with the highest period of initiative use friendly yet well paid General Court combined with the lawmaking frustrations that accompany divided power led many, particularly the conservative minority, to feel their higher than average tax dollars were wasted on a disreputable inst itution voting booths, or in the court rooms, with mass demonstrations, referenda and lawsuits as significant new playing pieces the 1990s (Berg 1993, 168). The interest group competition at the state level was further exacerbated by budgetary strain and tax slashing initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s.
Letmon 71 T able 3. 6 Massachusetts Partisan Composition 1975 2007 Year Governor House R / D Senate R / D 1975 1979 Michael Dukakis (D) 46/191 7/33 43/194 7/33 1979 1983 Edward King (R) 30/129 6/34 31/128 7/32 1983 1991 Michael Dukakis (D ) 29/131 34/126 33/127 32/128 7/33 8/32 8/32 8/32 1991 1997 William Weld (R) 38/121 35/124 35/124 14/26 9/31 10 /30 1997 2001 Paul Celucci (R) 29/129 8/31 28/131 7/33 2001 2003 2003 2007 2007 Jane Swift (R) Mitt Romney (R ) Deval Patrick (D) 24/136 4/36 23/135 6/34 21/138 19/141 6/34 5/35 Source :Klarner 2003. Budget Constraint Massa reform initiatives cut and limited the amount of property tax local governments could levy, came in response t o dissatisfaction Massachusetts high taxes and a Democrat majority legislature that was unwilling to make drastic reforms.
Letmon 72 especially property taxes and local government expenditures were well above the national avera ge but they also relied more heavily on them than other states ( Susskind 1983) The property tax was one of the few taxes local governments could levy and before Proposition 2 accounted for 56% local revenue compared to 29% nationally (Bradbury, Ladd an d Christopherson 1983). In order to make up for the lost property tax revenue, local governments had to rely significantly more on state aid to fund essential services (Hale 1993) Because of amendments to the measure and increased state aid, in the long r un, Proposition 2 did little to curb local government spending resulting in even more tax limiting initiatives throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to local government, increased tax cutting initiatives came in response to considerable growth in s government grew to meet the increased demands of a more complex economy. From 1985 to 2005 state expenditures grew from $9.74 billion to $37.97 billion ( National Associatio n of State Budget Officers 2013 ). But since groups in Massachusetts cannot use the initiative to carve out a piece of these expenditures, they have used it mostly to try and curb this spending. Conclusion In many ways Massachusetts is different from mos t other initiative states. It is the oldest and only one of a few eastern states with the initiative Its indirect initiative process itself has far more subject restrictions and qualification requirements than most other states. Despite these differences, Massachusetts has undergone an increase in initiative use over the past thirty years similar to growth in other states. Like California, Arizona, and Washington, Massachusetts economy and interest group populations have
Letmon 73 expanded and diversified with the r ise of new industries and social concerns since the 1960s. These new groups faced increased competition for influence within the state and found the initiative process a feasible policy making option. Similar to California, e considerably more professional and therefore, less reliant on interest groups for information and more expensive to influence. While the government was divided between the Democrat legislature and Republican governors during most of the past three decad es, initiative use began increasing when the branches were not divided. More important than division is the Democrat control of the legislature. As most of Massachusetts increased initiative use came from tax initiatives it is likely that these interests were not successful within the professionalized Democrat legislature and turned to the initiative instead. As the state government grew to meet the demands of an expanding economy, anti tax interests dissatisfied with government spending and growth found t he initiative the most responsive method of policymaking and used it acc ordingly. itiative subjects have also been important in shaping its use since 1978. Interests that use the initiative to appropriate funds in other s tates, like education and healthcare, are unable to do so in Massachusetts. It is possible that these interests have better luck in the Democrat majority legislatures and therefore have no increased incentive to use initiatives. However, since other states that do allow appropriating initiatives and have Democrat legislatures still see these kinds of initiatives it is more likely that they do not occur in Massachusetts because of its restrictions. With significantly more interest groups fighting for influen ce within a complex and
Letmon 74 professional government, groups, especially conservative anti tax groups, increasingly turned to the initiative to bypass the traditional legislative process. Washington The state of Washington is often characterized by its prog ressive politics and liberal institutions but the demands of rapid economic transformation and ideological its lusty, gutsy 1985, 7 ) However, with some of the most competitive state el ections and divided partisan control conservative intere sts are still strong. The state s economy has drastically diversified from one dominated by fishing, mining, and timber industries to a high tech economy driven by companies like Microsoft and Amazon .com. Washington is the sm allest contiguous state in the W est but with a population that has doubled since 1960 to 6.9 million people, it is the 13 th most populous state (US Census Bureau 2010) While somewhat limited and later than in other states, Washi ngton experienced its own increased initiative use beginning in the 1990s as a result of these political and economic circumstances. Unlike most other states that experienced dramatic interest group expansion in the 1970s and 80s, Washington saw a signific ant increase in interest groups in the 1990s. Its larger and more diverse economy increased demands on its legislature that went from one of the least professional bodies to one that was significantly better
Letmon 75 g and a closely divided legislature throughout the 1990s made legislating significantly more difficult. As a result, groups increasingly used the initiative to bypass the legislature and accomplish their legislative goals. After examining how Washington ha s developed and used the initiative since increased difficulty within a more professionalized and divided government increasingly constrained by budgetary conflicts and turned to ballot initiatives instead Progressive Adoption Like most initiative states, the move towards direct democracy in Washington developed from populist a nd progressive groups frustrated by an unresponsive legislature. A coalition of the State Union, and the Direct Legislation League of Washington successfully lobbied the legislature to pass a constitutional amendment providing modes of direct democracy. Their opponents came mostly from the li quor industry who were fearful citizens would use the initiative to for prohibition (Long 2004). Despite this opposition, the amendment passed and was approved by voters in 1912. The first initiatives appeared in 1914 and, as predicted, the first initiativ e to pass enacted state wide prohibition. Since then, the Qualification Requirements ive process is slightly different than most states. While the state does not allow for constitutional amendment through ballot initiative, Washington is one of nine states that allows for both direct and indirect initiatives. Direct initiatives, or
Letmon 76 Initiat ives to the People, are typical initiatives in which citizens petition to place a statute on the ballot that is submitted directly to the people for a vote. Indirect initiatives, or Initiatives to the Legislature, after gathering the requisite number of si gnatures are presented to the legislature first. The legislature then has three options: it can approve the measure without amending and the measure automatically becomes law without further voter approval; can take no action and the measure it is submitte d to voters for approval like a regular initiative; can amend a proposal which is submitted along with the original measure for voter approval and the one with the most votes becomes law. While Washington voters have this option, direct initiatives occur far more frequently than indirect initiatives. Washington has moderate qualification requirements (see Table 3. 7 ) It requires 8% of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election for both direct and indirect initiatives which, based on the 2012 elect ion, is approximately 245,700 signatures. Petitioners have six months for direct, and ten months for indirect, initiatives to collect the necessary number of signature but there is no distribution requirement. Signatures are verified by random sampling. W ashington has a strict single subject requirement which has resulted in the invalidation of a number of laws passed by initiative. For two years after the passage of an initiative, the legislature can amend or repeal it with a 2/3 majority vote. After two years, a measure can be repealed or amended with a simple majority vote
Letmon 77 Table 3. 7 Washington Qualification Requirements Requirement Washington Signature Requirement 8% Direct Initiatives 8% Indirect Initiatives Signatures related to Previous gubern atorial election Distribution Requirement None Circulation Period 6 months Direct Initiatives 10 months Indirect Initiatives Single Subject Restriction Yes Signature Verification Process Random Sampling Legislative Changes Within two years Legislatu re can amend with 2/3 majority and only requires a simple majority after two years Source: Waters 2003 Trends in Use Since 1914, 155 initiatives have appeared on Washington ballots, 74 of which have o ccurred since 1978. Figure 3.9 demonstrates the fre quency of initiative use from 1914 2008. Washington is considered a high use state even though no more than seven initiatives have appeared on a single ballot since its first year in use. There have been only six general elections with no initiatives and n one since 1974. For a brief period from 1979 1990 there was a slight decrease in use with only 1 to 3 initiatives on any ballot during that time but overall, initiatives use in Washington has been quite consistent since adoption. Interestingly, the drop in use does not coincide with the decrease seen in most other states between 1950 to 1980. Since the late 1990s, slightly more initiatives have
Letmon 78 been appearing on ballots which are due, in part, to the initiative topics that have become popular in recent year s as Figure 3. 10 shows. Figure 3.9 Frequency of Washington Initiative Use 1914 2008 Source: IRI Historical Database 2010 Figure 3. 10 Washington Initiatives by Subject 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013. There are several su bjects that are frequently addressed through ballot initiatives are different from most states and reflect the partisan divide that characterizes the state. Taxes and 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1914 1918 1922 1926 1930 1934 1938 1942 1946 1950 1954 1958 1962 1966 1970 1973 1975 1977 1979 1981 1984 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18
Letmon 79 environmental regu lation appear the most with government administration the third most common. By far the most commonly occurring subject is taxes with a significant portion of them occurring since 2000. Compared to the initiatives appear ing from 1948 to1977 (see Figure 3. 11 ) the number of tax initiatives has nearly tripled in the past 30 years. Notable tax cutting initiatives include a 1979 initiative to limit tax revenue increases, a 1993 state expenditures limit, a motor vehicle excise tax cut in 1999, and numerous attem pts in 2000 and 2001 to require a 2/3 majority vote by the people to approve of tax increases and cut property taxes. While voters did limit state tax revenue 1979 and reduce some sales and inheritance taxes in the 1980s, Washington has arrived relatively recently to the tax and expenditure limiting initiatives that were seen in many other states several years earlier. Part of the rise in tax cutting ballot initiatives can be attributed to political activist Tim Eyman and his anti tax anti government intere st group, Permanent Offense, which has spearheaded many of the anti tax initiative campaigns in the state (Herold and Gombosky 2004) Figure 3. 11 Washington Initiatives by Subject, 1948 1977 and 1978 2008 S ource: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 1948 1977 1978 2008
Letmon 80 The en vironment and wildlife protection is the second most popular ballot initiative subject in Washington. Many of these initiatives have been attempts to implement a beverage container refund program (I 414), prohibit certain kinds of hunting and traps (I 696 and I 713), ban the importation of radioactive waste (I 696) and fund hazardous waste cleanup (I 97). government administration initiatives are tied for third place, occurring just as frequently a campaign finance rules have been implemented through initiatives and groups have made numer ous unsuccessful attempts to implement term limits. While there has been a very slight increase in the number of government reforming initiatives, it has never been the most commonly occurring subject. Health care and education have received equal initiati ve attention but compared to earlier decades, education initiatives have increased significantly. Unlike other states most education initiatives do not seek to appropriate funds to education but address other issues like busing, charter schools, class size s, and school vouchers. Surprisingly, initiatives that address business/labor and crime/law have both decreased. 7 Interest groups Historically were dominated by just a few large interests for most of its history. As a state rich with natural resources, timber, mining, railroads, and other extractive industries were dominant in Washington politics for much of the 20 th century (Thomas and Elgar 2011). 7 The decrease in crime/law initiatives is mostly due to the large number of liquor consumption and production regulations from 1948 1977 that could arguably be placed in the business/labor or other/public morality category. I chose crime/law because that is how marijuana legalization is often categorized.
Letmon 81 The social movements of the 1960s and the tech industry in the late 1970s resulted in a significantly larger interest gro up population. From 1975 to 1997 the number of interest groups in the state rose from 338 to 680 (Gray and Lowery 1996 Gray et al. 2005 ). E c onomic groups con tributed to most of this growth but citizen gr oups grew as well from 132 in 19 75 to 521 in 1997 (see Figure 3.12 ) The slight decrease between 1990 and 1997 is less significant as the overall growth since 1975 but may play some role in Was However as more groups emerged, they struggled amongst themselves for influence in an increasingly professional complex and divided legislature Thomas and Elgar (2011, 69) write of Washington interest group this expansion in group activity led to greater competition among groups and encouraged the use of a broader range of lobbying initiative and referendum The initiative provided a way for many groups that experienced increased legislative difficulty to pursue their goals without having to g o through legislature. Figure 3. 12 Washington Economic and Citizen Interest Groups 1975, 1980, 1990 1997 Source: G ray and Lowery 1996, Gray et al. 2005, Boehmke 2007 206 294 559 521 132 140 208 159 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 1975 1980 1990 1997 Economic Citizen
Letmon 82 Legislative Professionalism thirty years. The legislature is comprised of a 98 member House of Representatives and a 49 me mber Senate. Both chambers are required to meet annually for moderately short sessions (60 100 days) that are often extended into special sessions Today, a job in th e Washington State Legislature is devotin g time to work spent in regular session, special sessions to extend the regular attempting to professionalize their legislatures in the 1960s Washington did not seriously begin until the mid to late 1970s. Many attempts were made to raise members salaries were not successful until 1979 when they rose from $3,600 to $9,800 per year (Donovan 2 004 ). Between 1987 and 2008 salaries continued to rise from $15,500 to $42,106 2013 that the legislature went from being a particularly unprofessional body in the 1960s to slightly above average by the 1990s but do not include the increase professionalism since 1994 that coincided with increased tax reform initiatives in the state (see Table 3. 8 )
Letmon 83 Table 3. 8 Washington Legislative Professionalism Scores Year Washington Mean 19 63 1964 .098 .164 1973 1974 .210 .251 1983 1984 259 .257 1993 1994 296 .260 Source: King 2003. Divided Government While normally Washington State is seen as a strong hold of Democratic politics, it has some of the most competitive state elec tions in the country. This had led to numerous periods of divided government over the past thirty years (see Table 3. 9 ) With 1985, ver, in only seven sessions since 1977 party. The balance between Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature has often been very close with neither party holding a supe r majority in either chamber for very long. It is worth not ing that the period of increased initiative use coincides with increased Republican strength in the Legislature from 1995 to 2005. The partisan divides in the legislature during this period made th e budget process particularly difficult with tax issues dividing quite strictly along party lines (LeLoup and Herzog 2004). Compared to
Letmon 84 Table 3. 9 Washington Partisan Compositi on 1977 2009 Year Governor House R / D Senate R / D 1977 1981 Dixy Lee Ray (D) 36/62 20/29 49/49 19/30 1981 1985 John Spellman (R) 56/42 25/24 44/54 23/26 1985 1993 Booth Gardner (D) 45/53 37/61 35/63 40/58 22/27 24/25 25/24 25/24 1993 1997 Mi ke Lowry 33/65 62/36 21/28 26/20 1997 2005 Gary Locke (D) 56/42 26/20 49/49 22/27 49/49 24/25 25/24 46/52 2005 2009 Christine Gregoire (D) 43/55 23/26 35/63 17/32 Source : Klarner 2003. Budget Constraint duri budget but did not have as drastic an effect as those in California or Massachusetts As a state known for its progressive history and politics, Washington has one of the most regressive tax systems in the US (LeLoup and Herzog 2004). With no personal income tax Washington relies almost entirely on sales, property, and other taxes to make up its tax revenue. In recent years, the risin g costs of healthcare and other social services (law
Letmon 85 enforcement, transportation, welfare) has created increased demand for more stat e funding. Ballot box budgeting creating more demand for increasingly c onstrained resources. From 1995 to 2007 tax cutting and budget appropriating initiatives have cost the state more than 2.5 billion dollars (LeLoup and Herzog 2004). However, the relative late arrival of tax slashing and revenue appropriating initiatives i n Washington can be explained by a number of factors. The burden for funding K 12 education had been moved from local governments to the state long before local tax cutting initiatives. This reduced some of the scramble for local relief that was seen in Ca lifornia and Arizona after property taxes were cut. Furthermore, property taxes te and local revenue collection with the losses replaced by sales and other taxes with seemingly little difficulty by the time prop erty tax initiatives reached the ballots in the 1990s(Burrows and Taylor 1985). Even before this, the easy transition to other revenue sources and weak initiative response to Proposition 13 was due in part to massive tax reform including strict property tax limitations and increased sales taxes that had been in place in the state since 1932 (Burrows and Taylor 1985). However, as more tax cutting initiatives have reached the ballot in the past 15 years placing more strain on the state budget; more groups have had to turn to the initiative to guarantee the appropriation of funds. Conclusion Since adopting the initiative, Washington has had the most consistent initiative use of all the states but has seen a moderate increase in use in more recent years. Washin gton has undergone many of the political and economic changes seen in Arizona,
Letmon 86 California, and Massachusetts over the past several decades but experienced its increase d initiative use later than these other cases. With the growth of the high tech industry since economic interests as well as spurred the growth of many non economic groups as well. political demands of an expanding economy and went from a particularly unprofessional legislature to a more than average one more rapidly than Arizona and Massachusetts. While these conditions made initiative use more likely in the state, Washington exper ienced most of its increased initiative use as a result of its highly competitive and divided legislature in the 1990s and the However, by the late 1990s after many successful g increasingly constrained by numerous successful tax cutting and budget appropriating initiatives. Strongly divided government with Republicans controlling the legislatures and a Democrat governor further made budget compromises and the entire legislative process more difficult. As a result, groups, both liberal and conservative, used initiatives during this time in order to avoid the increasingly difficult path through the legislature.
Letmon 87 Chapter 4 Land Locked: Unchanged Initiative Use in Oklahoma and North Dakota While it is generally acknowledged that initiative use has increased over the past thirty years, several states have not experienced any change following Proposition 13. In order to understand how institutional developments created a proces s through which groups increasingly turned to ballot initiatives, it is important to examine cases where this process did not occur. This chapter examines Oklahoma and North Dakota as states that do not use the initiative very much and have had little to n o increase in use. Both states lack the economic development that spurred dramatic expansion of interest groups in the other cases which, in combination with their levels of legislative professionalization, budgetary constraint, and divided government, has not led to increased initiative use. Oklahoma Oklahoma is not the first state that comes to mind in any discussion of ballot initiatives. While the state had a progressive and sometimes socialist past, it has hardly
Letmon 88 utilized the ballot initiative over has not fallen in line with national economic and political patterns that have led to only occasional initiative use and a stagnant economy. While many states were enjoying the windfall from economic expansion and diversification since World War II, Oklahoma was still largely reliant on its petroleum and agricultural industries until relatively recently. As a result, Oklahoma has had lower taxes and fewer interest groups than most states and the incen tive to use initiatives was less. After a brief examination of circumstances, combined with relatively small interest group populations and a legislature not prone to gridlock, hav use over the past thirty years despite passage of its own tax reform initiative Progressive Adoption Oklahoma is one of a few states that has been able to use the initiative since achieving statehood in 1907. With its large agricultural population, Progressive interests (specifically oil and railroad), prohibition, and direct democracy were overwhelmingly approved for inclusion in the constitution by voters ( Morgan et al. 1991). In its early years the initiative was used moderately, reaching its peak in 1914 with six initiatives. However, the process that developed was one that made passing an initiative slightly ha rder than it would be in other states even though qualification is not particularly difficult
Letmon 89 Qualification Requirements Qualifying an initiative in Oklahoma is similar to qualification in most states, and in some ways, is easier (see Table 4.1) As soon as the proposal is filed with the Secretary of State, petitioners can begin gathering signatures. Until 2010, for statutory initiatives, groups had to gather 8% the number of votes cast for the office that received the most votes in the previous general e lection 8 A constitutional amendment is considerably more difficult by requiring 15%. There is no distribution requirement but circulators have 90 days to collect the necessary signatures which are then submitted to the Secretary of State who counts them and checks for duplicates and fraud (I & R Institute 2002 ). In order for a measure to pass, it must be approved by a majority of votes cast in the election, not just votes cast for the initiative. As many people who vote in elections only vote for the most popular offices, this makes passing an initiative in Oklahoma more difficult than other states. Table 4. 1 Oklahoma Qualification Requirements Requirement Oklahoma Signature Requirement 8% Statutory 15% Constitutional Amendments Signatures related to Nu mber of votes cast for the office that received the most votes in the previous general election Distr ibution Requirement None Circulation Period 90 Days Single Subject Restriction Yes Signature Verification Process Assumed valid unless challenged Legi slative Changes Legislature can both repeal and amend initiatives Source : Waters 2003. 8 This had the result of requiring significantly more signatures for passing initiatives during presidential electio ns but is now tied to gubernatorial elections like most other states.
Letmon 90 Trends in Use Since Oklahoma passage rate is not particularly low compared to other states (47%), tying the passage of an initiative to the office with the highest nu mber of votes, was never a particularly high use initiative state, until the 1960s it was a regular feature on Oklahoma ballots appearing in moderate numbers fro m 1907 until 1964 (see Figure 4. 1 ). Since 1978, Oklahoma has only had 16 initiatives appear on the ballots. Between 1968 and 2008 no more than two initiatives were placed on the ballot in any one election and several years saw none at all. Figure 4 .1 Frequ ency of Oklahoma Initiative Use, 1908 2008 Source : IRI Historical Database 201 0. initiatives that occur most frequently (see Figure 4.2). Since 1978, Oklahoma has almost e xclusively used the initiative for regulating government administration, taxes, and 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1908 1912 1916 1920 1923 1926 1930 1932 1935 1938 1942 1946 1949 1952 1956 1958 1962 1966 1970 1972 1976 1979 1982 1986 1989 1991 1994 1998 2004 2006
Letmon 91 gaming and these numbers are comparatively quite small. 9 While there was one initiative to cut income taxes in 1979, it failed and was not like the tax reform initiatives s een in other states (NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013 ). The topics of education, environment, healthcare, and business regulation, which are popular initiative subjects in most other states, receive almost no initiative attention in Oklahoma 10 Figure 4 .2 Oklahoma Initiative Use by Subject, 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013 When compared to the previous thirty years, an increase in tax initiatives, decrease in initiatives relating to alcohol prohibition and increase in gaming initiat ives were the biggest differences but these are so slight that the same conclusions can be made: Oklahoma does not use the initiative for very much except to occasionally regulate government (see Figure 4 3). 9 given its own category in order to maintain consistent categorization between t he cases. 10 The one education and environment initiatives were a 1991 education reform bill and a 2002 initiative to ban cockfighting 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Letmon 92 Figure 4.3 Oklahoma Initiative Use by Subject, 1948 1977 and 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013 Interest Groups thirty years has occurred but has been limited. For most of its history, oil and agriculture socioeconomic development and economic diversification has been an important policy g oal over the past thirty years (Morgan et al. 1991). While some diversification has occurred more recently in the manufacturing, service, and government sectors, many consider it a state in transition no longer solely dominated by oil and agriculture, but still struggling to diversify and expand its economy (Morgan et al. 1991, Gatch 1998). By 1993, banking and finance, business, and professional groups were considered only y 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1948 1977 1978 2008
Letmon 93 interest group populations have been less dramatic than those seen in other initiative states since 1975. While Oklahoma has seen an increase in interest groups, the si ze of its interest group population is still significantly smaller than the previous cases in this study (se e exploded is due to its exceptionally small population in 1 975 and 1980. Almost all of the growth is a result of increased economic interest groups in the 1990s with citizen groups increasing only by 15 between 1990 and 1997. By 1997 Oklahoma had one of the lowest percentages of citizen groups of any initiative s (2005) conclusions that states with more citizen groups tend to put more initiatives on the ballot, interest groups, especially citizen groups Furthermore, Oklahoma did not experience the same budgetary constraint that left such large numbers of groups in other states scrambling for resources in the 1970s and 80s. Figure 4.4 Oklahoma Economic and Citizen Interest Groups 1975, 1980, 1990 1997 Source : Gray a nd Lowery 1996, Gray et al. 2005, Boehmke 2007 61 134 351 390 21 63 95 78 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 1975 1980 1990 1997 Economic Citizen
Letmon 94 Legislative Professionalism While most other states were undergoing increasing professionalization and more professiona l but facing fewer interest group demands than other states. Overall, professional in 1983 and experienced a decrease in 1993 but still slightly above the national avera ge (see Table 4. 2 ). Table 4. 2 Oklahoma Legi slative Professionalism Scores Oklahoma Mean 1963 1964 .136 .164 1973 1974 .264 .251 1983 1984 .302 .257 1993 1994 .281 .260 Source: King 2000 The Oklahoma legislature consists of a 101 member House of Representa tives and a 48 member Senate that face reelection every two and four years respectively. In 1968, the decision was made to increase member salaries to $20,000 rather than a low daily rate However, the legislature still meets biennially for 75 day sessions. By 1993, with Arizona and Washington, but less professional the California or Massachusetts (King 2000) Perhaps without the large increase in demand from i ncreasing interest groups and tax reform
Letmon 95 professionalization is so closely in line with other higher use initiative st ates, it is difficult to say conclusively whether professionalization alone has a large impact on initiative use. Divided Government executive and legislature over the past thirty year, making than it would be in necessary to understand how party identific ation has developed in the state. For most of its history, because of its strongly Southern cultural ties, Oklahoma has been a strongly Democratic, almost one party state but not cohesive and quite conservative. Of et a l. very little primarily because it tries to encompass such an assortment of views and group From 1979 to 1999, Democrats strongly held both the House and the Senate but the Senate has recently shifted into Republican hands (see Table 4.3). And although the Democrats have dominated the state legislature, Republicans by the 1990s have been much mor (Bednar and Hertzke branch division has a
Letmon 96 legisl ative gridlock than a state like Washington where the legislature is often divided between the chambers. Table 4 3 Oklahoma Partisan Composition, 1979 2011. Year Governor House R / D Senate R / D 1979 1987 George Nigh (D) 26/75 9/39 28/73 24/77 32/ 69 11/37 14/34 34/14 1987 1991 Henry Bellmon 31/70 32/68 17/30 15/33 1991 1995 David Walters 32/69 33/68 11/37 11/37 1995 2003 Frank Keating 37/64 36/65 40/61 48/53 13/34 15/33 15/33 18/30 2003 2011 Brad Henry (D) 48/53 20/27 57/44 22/26 57/44 24 /24 Source : Klarner 2003 Budget Constraint historically oil dependent and agricultural economy has resulted in a tax system that further differentiates it from other initiati elected on campaigns pledging no new taxes, continued to set a conservative tone
Letmon 97 politicians responded to demands for more publi services without high taxes by relying heavily on severance taxes, paid by corporations and consumers outside of the state (Mor gan et al. 1991, 157). Despite the revenue from average tax revenues and state expenditures. For example, in 1988 Oklahoma spent 38% of its revenue on education (greater th an the national average), but its per capita education spending was significantly lower than the national average 44 th in the nation (Morgan et al. 1991, the 1980s in part because of comp aratively low tax rates and spending levels. Furthermore, as tax revolts were sweeping the country, Oklahoma was enjoying oil production multiplied tenfold in additio n to even greater increases in natural gas government had no choice but to increase ta xes four times from 1984 to 1990 in order to continue providing essential services (Morgan et el. 1991, 159). These tax increases did see some popular backlash in the form of a successful 1992 initiative to require a 3/4 legislative majority or submission to the people for majority app roval to pass any tax increase. While this initiative did not involve an immediate and drastic tax cut, it still made raising future revenue more difficult for a state trying to diversify its economy U nlike most other states Oklahoma did not see a significant increase in initiative use
Letmon 98 after this significant tax reform initiative indicating that the presence of tax reform alone does not lead to increased initiative use but requires other institutional conditions to make the traditional legislative route more difficult and increase the incentive of initiative use. Conclusion Since 1978, Oklahoma has not experienced an increase in initiative use. While it has a progressive past and history of moderate initiative use, it has b een used only sparingly over the past thirty years while initiatives were becoming popular in many other states that allowed them. ed by the lack of certain economic and political conditions the push g roups to use initiatives comparatively non diverse economy that still relies heavily on petroleum and agricultural industry. As a result, Oklahoma experienced only a moderate inc rease in its interest group population and even smaller increase in its citizen interest group population. The Massachusetts, and Washington in 1980 before they experienced gre ater initiative use. Also tax structure that did not a particularly large burden on voters so calls for tax limits and budgetary constraint were limited. However, the legis lature was professionalizing at rates similar to much bigger and more complex states but with far fewer interests to juggle. undivided Democrat and not particularly prone to gridlock. Because conditions in the legislature were not particularly constrained and competitive in Oklahoma as they were in more high use states, it did not experience the same reemergence of initiative use.
Letmon 99 North Dakota In almost any study o f initiatives, North Dakota is included among Oregon and California as a high use initiative state and with 178 initiatives between 1918 and 2008, it has used the initiative more than any other case in this study besides California (IRI Historical Database 2010) However, since 1978, North Dakota initiative use has been nowhere near the numbers it experienced during the Progressive Era and Great Depression and saw no significant increase in initiative use following Proposition 13. Similar to Oklahoma, North has dampened the institutional circumstances that led to increased initiative use in many non diverse, workin g within a largely citizen, rather than professional, legislature. Furthermore, without drastic tax reform to increase responsibilities and competition at the state level, these few groups had no increased incentive to turn to the initiative. After discuss no significant increase in initiative use since 1978 as a result of its small and homogenous interest group population, unprofessional legislature, and lack of drastic tax r eform. Progressive Adoption Despite its recent relatively low use, North Dakota has one of the strongest historical relationships with the initiative. Like almost all initiative states, ballot initiatives were adopted in North Dakota in 1914 in response to the powerful railroad industry dominating the legislature. As an almost entirely agricultural state isolated from
Letmon 100 railroads and unstable food prices (Wilkins 1977) Beca use of its dependence on an often unstable economy, North Dakotans throughout much of the 20 th century became addicted result of big business interests conspiring with politicians for their own economic advantage, and saw direct democracy was the solution (Pedeliski 1993, 121). With such a nd it became an integral aspect of policy Qualification Requirements in the other states in this study and are not particularly difficult. Initiative sponsors must file the proposed initiative to the Secretary of State before they can circulate. Once the proper paperwork is filed, petitioners have one year to gather enough signature s to equal ulation at the last federal census for statutory initiatives and 4% for constitutional amendments. Considering North Dakota is one of the least populous states, it has a particularly low signature requirement threshold. There is no distribution requirement signatures more difficult than it might be in other states with larger urban centers. Tabl e 4.4 summarizes this information below.
Letmon 101 Table 4. 4 North Dakota Qualification Requirements Requirement North Dakota Signature Requirement 2% Statutory 4% Constitutional Amendments Signatures related to Population at last federal census Distr ibution Requirement None Circulation Period 1 year Single Subject Restriction No Signature Verifica tion Process Random Sample Legislative Changes Legislature can repeal or amend by a 2/3 vote of each house for seven year after passage Source: Waters 2003 Trends in Use While the initiative was adopted in 1914, it was expanded and made easier in 19 17 through efforts by the radical reform group, the Non Partisan League ( IRI North Dakota 2013 patterns seen in other high use states. Rather than the U shaped curve of California and nished over time (see fig. Figure 4.5 ). The initiative was use extensively throughout the 1930s as North Dakotans sought to abolish e most states, use dropped considerable during World War II but resumed previous levels until 1964 when almost an entire decade went by without more than one initiative. With the exception of 1992 when five initiatives appeared on the ballot, used stayed c onsistently low between 1965 and 2008. Despite the lack of significantly increased initiative use, many scholars still categorize North Dakota as a high use initiative state but with no
Letmon 102 more than five initiatives on a single ballot (while most only have tw o) between 1965 and Figure 4. 5 Frequency of North Dakota Initiative Use, 1918 2008 Source : IRI Historical Database 2010. When North Dakota groups have used the initiat ive it has been for many of the same issues found in other states, just less frequently. Government initiatives are most and are tied with tax initiatives as the sec ond most common initiative subject with six total initiatives for each. The infrequency with which North Dakota uses the initiative to address subjects like education, business and labor, the environment, crime and law, and healthcare serves as an indicato r that groups do not face much difficulty within the legislature regarding these issues (see Figure 4.6 ). The following section will examine the economic and political institutional conditions that made the ballot initiative a less viable option for groups in North Dakota than it was for groups in other more frequently used initiative states. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
Letmon 103 Figure 4. 6 North Dakota Initiative Use by Subject, 1978 2008 Source: NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013. Interest Groups North Dakota is one of the most rural state s in the US. For all of its history associated with it have dominated state politics. Because of its geographic and economic isolation, out of state railroads, millers, grain e xchanges, and banks were the big economic interests in power in the early part of the 20 th century (Pedeleski 1993). The popularity of the Non Partisan League in the 1930s and other progressive reforms played a big part in dampening the influence of out of state interests and allowed for more as involved in agriculture for most of the century, agricultural interests in the form of the North Dakota Farmer s Union (NDFU) and the North Dakota 0 2 4 6 8 10 12
Letmon 104 Farm Bureau and other agricultural interest groups were highly influential. Agricultural interests were joined by energy interests when it became an oil producing state in the 1950s (Pedeleski 1993). These two industries since and can be seen in the limited interest group growth seen in the state since 1975 (see Figure 4.7 ). In 1975 North Dakota had 222 interest groups, 15 th highest interest group population among the states (Gray and Lowery 1996). While the interest group population grew to 342 by 1990, this increase was significantly less than growth witnessed in increased initiative states, and dropping it to 36 th in the nation (Gray and Lowery 1996). Very little of this limited gro wth came from citizen interest groups with the total number of citizen groups only rising from 60 to 92 between 1975 and 1990. Figure 4. 7 North Dakota Economic and Citi zen Groups, 1975, 1980, 1990 and 1997 Source : Gray and Lowery 1996, Boehmke 2007 Gray et al. 2005. Not only are there fewer interest groups in North Dakota than in most other states, these groups are particularly influential within the state Legislature. Because North 162 236 250 299 60 49 92 62 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 1975 1980 1990 1997 Economic Citizen
Letmon 105 tors rely heavily on interest groups for information and expertise. Further increasing interest group influence members of the biggest groups that lobby within the legislature (Pedeleski 1993). The North Dakota Farmers Union, the North Dakota Farm Bureau, rural electr ic co ops, water management dis Association, and the Greater North Dakota Association busi ness group all had between 5 and 22 directors, officers, or members in the 1989 legislature (Pedeleski 1993, 237). Because there comparatively few interest groups in North Dakota working within a legislature responsive to their interests, groups had no rea l increased incentive to bypass the legislature and use the initiative since 1978. Legislative Professionalism North Dakota has one of the least professional legislatures in the country. From 1963 to 1994, North Dakota was consistently well below the nat ional average based on (2002) legislative professionalism scores (see Table 4. 5 ) The 94 member House of Representatives and 47 member Senate meet for only 80 days every other year. In 1993 only New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming were less professionalized dollars a day while in session, one of the lowest rates of all state legislatures (NCSL.org). The limited capacity of the legislature means that it relies h eavily on interest groups for research and information about issues in North Dakota. However, the flexibility provided in a more citizen legislature also makes it easily accessible and responsive to groups and local constituents. Pedeleski (1993, 227) says
Letmon 106 Dakota is a rural state with a small population and with a limited political and economic legislators and most lobbyists and commun professionalism, expectations for legislative action remained relatively unchanged as well. The low number of interest groups could effectively work within the citizen legislature for their policy goals unlike state with very large interest group populations that much compete with hundreds of other groups within a highly organized and expensive legislature. As a result, groups in North Dakota had less incentive for using the initiative than other higher use stat es. However, a period of divided government making legislating more difficult may have accounted for the few extra initiatives on the ballot in 1990 and 1992. Table 4. 5 North Dakota Legislative Professionalism Scores Year North Dakota Mean 1963 1964 .062 .164 1973 1974 .075 .251 1983 1984 .102 .257 1993 1994 .102 .260 Source : King 2000 Divided Government For most of its history North Dakota was a one party dominant state. Republicans controlled the state until the Democrats joined forces with t he Nonpartisan League in the late 1950s and made the state significantly more competitive (Pedeleski 1993, 217)
Letmon 107 Republicans consistently swept the state during national elections, at the state and local level elections became quite competitive by the 1980 s (Pedeleski 1993, 239). Despite the introduction of a two party system, issues were not often divided by partisan lines but rather urban rural and east west divisions with constituent preferences the most influential factor over party loyalty (Pedeleski 1 993, 218). Because of this, it seems that divided government in North Dakota has a minimal effect on initiative use. With the exception of the 1981 be tween 1977 1992 (see Table 4.6 ). Despite fifteen years o f divided government only 1990 and 1992 coincided with a very slight bump in initiative use. 11 After that Republicans use continued at low rates. Considering North Dako that divided government alone has much effect on initiative use but in combination with other constraining factors like professionalization, interest groups, and budget problems. Since North Dakota did not experien ce these other factors as much as other states, its division has little effect on initiative use by itself. 11 There was a slight jump from two to five inititiv es between 1988 and 1990, then four in 1992 and back to two in 1994.
Letmon 108 Table 4. 6 North Dakota Partisan Composition 1977 2010 Year Governor House R / D Senate R / D 1977 1981 Arthur Link (D) 50/50 32/18 71/29 35/15 1981 1985 Allen Olson (R) 73/27 51/55 40/10 32/21 1985 1992 George Sinner (D) 65/41 61/45 61/45 58/48 29/24 26/27 21/32 26/27 1992 2000 Ed Schafer (R) 65/33 75/23 72/26 64/34 24/25 29/20 30/19 31/18 2000 2010 John Hoeven (R) 69/29 32/17 66/28 31/16 67/27 32/15 61/33 26/21 Source : Klarner 2003 Budget Constraint After Proposition 13 and the tax revolts swept through many states, North Dakota remained largely unaffected. There was no sweeping property or other tax reform that significant ly constrained local or state budgets ( NCSL Ballot Measures Database 2013 ). While there was a 1978 income tax reduction initiative, it was nowhere near as drastic as something like Proposition 13 and was offset by a new oil extraction tax passed in the 198 quite small few felt the need to constrain it.
Letmon 109 300,000,000, were not perceived to be growing out of control and placing undue burden on citizens (National Association of State Budget Officers 2012) Without drastic tax reforms, the small interest group population did not face a more constrained legislature and could still work effectively within it. Conclusion Despite its strong histo ry with ballot initiatives, North Dakota has seen comparatively low use over the past thirty years and has not experienced an initiative resurgence over the past thirty years. North Dakota is the smallest state in terms of its economy and government of all the cases in this study and f ew new pr essures and hurdles process more difficult. While it was North was the same non d iversified economy and resulting static political conditions that prevented its increased use over the past thirty years. Like Oklahoma, North Dakota is still heavily reliant on its large agricultural economy and more recent energy extraction industries. A s a result, North Dakota has a small and homogenous interest group population that works within particularly non professional legislature. Without a more complicated, careerist, and expensive legislature, the comparatively smaller number of groups play a b igger part in policy making within the legislature and have an easier time influencing policy. Until the 1990s, the state government was divided but initiative use remained relatively unchanged when it became undivided after that. Because North ate budget is so small, there was not much demand for drastic tax reform to constrain the legislature and make law making more difficult. The effects that North
Letmon 110 circumst ances that increased the incentive to use ballot initiatives over the past thirty years.
Letmon 111 Chapter 5 Institutional Explanations for Increased Initiative Use: Summary, Analysis, and Conclusions Over the course of the past thirty years, ballot initia tives have reemerged to fundamentally transform government processes and politics in a number of states that provide for the process After a period of almost universal low use, the initiative has now become a popular means for citizens and groups to direc tly engage in the l egislative process and bypass the legislature completely. 13 as the moment after which initiatives became a popular legislative option once again but rarely delve into how this and similar even ts acr oss the country interacted with preexisting/developing institutional conditions to encourage expanded use of initiatives. This study ex plores the eco nomic and political institutional circumstances of several states since the 1960s in order to better understand how and why this reemergence occurred. While Proposition 13 was an important moment in initiative development, its occurrence and surrounding media attention is not enough to explain increased initiative use in the states. Based on factors iden tified in the literature to predict initiative use, this
Letmon 112 study compares the size and diversity of interest group populations, levels of legislative professionalism, and the partisan division within the state government in order to determine whether the law making in the legislature has become more difficult and encouraged groups to use initiatives instead. Since Proposition 13 was a tax reform initiative the effects of tax reform and budgetary conditions in each state are included as political economic conditions that made working within the legislature more difficult. With the initiative, groups have the choice to venue shop that is, choose the legislative route that provides a greater chance of success for their issue (Baumgartner et al. 2007 Constantelos 2010 ) Based on the findings of this study, groups increasingly chose the initiative because, with the development of professional campaign firms, groups could more easily guarantee action than they c ould in a legislature made more complex by more interest groups, increased professionalism, and budgetary constraints. While Proposition 13 and the tax revolts did serve to put ballot initiatives back in the national political spotlight, scholars have not acknowledged how the constraining effects of the measure exacerbated institutional conditions that encouraged groups to increasingly turn to ballot initiatives. The following section summarizes and interprets how these factors varied and developed in Cali fornia, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, Oklahoma, and North Dakota since the 1960s. Table 5.1 generally summarizes the changes in interest group populations, professionalization, tax reform, and divided government. A superficial glance at whether and to what extent interest groups grew, legislatures professionalized, taxes were cut and reformed and divided government occurred, shows that interest groups and tax reform
Letmon 113 most clearly divide states that experienced increase initiative use and those that d id not. However, this does not mean to say that professionalization and divided government do not play a role but rather that these institutional conditions interacted and affected initiative use differently in each state. Table 5.1 Summary of Explanatory Variables Interest Groups Professionalization Tax Reform C alifornia +++ +++ + + Arizona ++ + + + Massachusetts ++ ++ + + Washington ++ + + + + North Dakota + + Oklahoma + + + Interest Groups Matter While each state is affected interest group population seems to be the most important factor explaining why and to what extent a state experienced increased initiative use Overall, the states with a very large increase in in terest groups also experienced increased initiative use. California had the largest interest group population growth and also had the most dramatic increase in initiatives while Oklahoma and North Dakota which had smallest interest group increase experien ced no increase d initiative use Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington experienced moderate interest group expansion compared to California, and also more moderate increased initiative use. The economies of California, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washing ton all underwent significant expansion and diversification after World War II and similarly saw their interest group populations expand and diversify as new
Letmon 114 economic and citizen interests developed Alternatively, Both Oklahoma and North Dakota have econo mies that are still heavily reliant on agriculture and energy extraction without much economic expansion or diversification into new industries. As a result, both of these states developed comparatively small and homogenous interest group populations. B ut what is the relationship between interest groups and initiative use and why does having more of them seem to lead to a larger number of initiatives? In California, Arizona, Washington, and Massachusetts, before the drastic proliferation of interest grou ps, a few large and powerful economic interests dominated state government with little competition. As new industries developed and expanded, the responsibilities of the state government also increased. In addition to the new economic interests, powerful e ducation, healthcare, and environmental interests developed to influence the expanding government policy in these areas. Baumgartner, Gray, and Lowery explain As government becomes involved in more areas of the economy, those affected by these activities mobilize. Some do so defensively because they seek to avoid further encroachments and others work proactively because they are involved in the new policies, inter acting with government Accordingly, as government activity expands into areas previ ously not the objects of any public policy activities, interests are created and interest organizations are mobilized. (2007, 1) The relationship between growing interest group populations and increased initiative use seems to confirm neopluralist theory of interest group competition. The more organized interests there are, the more they must compete with one another for attention and influence in the legislature. When there are more groups to contribute to campaigns, provide information, and lobby, the co mpetition dilutes the influence of any g roup more than if it were only one of a few groups performing these functions. As Salis bury (1992, 339) describes "more groups, less clout. While it is also true that more groups with
Letmon 115 similar interests can build la rger and more powerfully influential coalitions, interest group populations have also become increasingly diverse with many more powerful citizen issue groups to compete with large, more diverse, economic interests. In initiative states, groups are provide d the option to bypass a legislature that might be unresponsive to a particular interest and take their chances with voters instead. It would seem that the expansion of state interest group populations alone explains the increased initiative use but this e xplanation does not take into account the contingent effects of Proposition 13 that also encouraged groups to use initiatives more and for different issues in each state. Navigating a More Professional Legislature As more interest groups formed to influ ence lawmaking, legislatures across the country were making strides towards becoming more professional institutions. However, since every state in this study except North Dakota experienced professionalization, it is difficult to draw strong conclusions ab out its effect on initiative use. The level of professionalization alone does not correlate to greater initiative use as much as interest group populations in these states. While California had the highest level of professionalization and the highest rat es of initiative use, the other cases do not so easily correlate. Massachusetts had the next most professional legislature but not the next highest increase in initiative use. Arizona, Washington, and Oklahoma all more or less followed national averages of professionalization but had different patterns of drastic, moderate, or no increase in initiative use North Dakota which had the least professional legislature used the initiative more than Oklahoma which had an increasingly
Letmon 116 professional le gislature. Desp ite these differences, all the states that experienced increased initiative use had legislatures that became more professional. While the evidence does not show that professionalization alone leads to increased initiative use, effects of professionalizat ion in combination with other factors probably did encourage groups to use initiatives. In order to become more professional and increase their governing capacity legislatures across the country increased legislator compensation, staff, and session. These efforts were made to try and attract better quality candi dates and create better policy. Prior to professionalization, especially in California, interest groups and lobbyists could more easily and obviously purchase influence and legislation. By increasin g legislative staff and resources, legislators can be less reliant on interest groups for essential information possibly making it more difficult to influence policy outcomes. Countering this has been the increased importance of interest group contribution s to campaigns that have become more professionalized and expensive in this way, groups have not become less influential in professional legislatures. It is also important to consider that while legislatures in Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, and Oklah oma were becoming more professional they were not completely professionalized bodies like California or Congress ( Squire 1997 ) The Constraining Effects of Tax Reform Proposition 13 is pointed to time and time again as the starting point for the modern p eriod of initiative use. Since Proposition 13 and the tax revolts swept the country in 1978 states have seen more and more initiatives on the ballot every year. At most, scholars point to the national media response and subsequent re discovery of
Letmon 117 initiativ es by interest groups to explain why Proposition 13 was such an important moment in initiative history. But the se reasons do not explain why only some initiative states experienced increased use despite national media exposure nor do they take into accoun t the significant effects these measures had on state and local government s All four states that underwent increased initiative use also experienced some form of significant tax reform and numerous tax cutting initiatives at one point or another while Ok lahoma and North Dakota saw neither drastic tax reform nor increased initiative use. Propositio Proposition 13 style tax reform initiative failed its Republican legislature passed its own tax reform and implemented many subsequent tax cuts. tax revolts in the 1990s provides the best evidence that the institutional effects of tax reforms played some role in encouraging increased initiative use beyond the fact that Proposition 13 simply remind ed groups the initiative exists What is the relationship between these property tax reforms and ballot initiatives? These reforms, wh ile dif ferent in each state, drastically cut taxes and placed strict limits on the budgetary process. Local governments and the services they provide rely heavily on property taxes for funding. Rather than suffer through the crippling effects of cutting essential local services, the state especially in California and Massachusetts, increased aid to supplement lost revenue which essentially shifted the burden of financing these services from local governments to the state. Joining new economic and citizen group in tere sts were more local governments -count ies, cities, school districts -vying for a place in the i ncreasingly constrained budget. In addition to increasing the financial
Letmon 118 responsibilities of the state, California, Arizona, and Washington all passed measu res requiring a 2/3 majority in the state legislature in order to raise taxes. This requirement mostly meant that states and local governments became more reliant on fees and other sources of revenue rather constantly turning to t he electorate to raise tax es, but making it more difficult for legislators to raise taxes made state budgeting a more difficult and constrained process. In order to bypass these constraints on legislative budget making, groups increasingly used the initiative to ensure funding fo r their interests. Especially in California, and to a lesser extent in Arizona and Washington 12 education, health care, and environmental interests increasingly used initiatives to appropriate funds in the budget after significant tax reform in the state. At the same time that an increasingly larger number of interest groups were seeking influence in more professional legislatures, Proposition 13 and tax reform initiatives served as a catalyst making it even harder for states to make ends meet. The institut ionalized effects of this fiscally constraining process alone do not explain increased initiative use but in combination with expandin g interest groups and professionalization, tax reform has played an important role in encouraging groups to increasingly t urn to initiatives. Divided Government Of all the possible explanatory factors examined in this study, divided government seems to have played the least important role in encouraging increased initiatives over the past thirty years. Every state has experi enced some period of divided 12 Ma ssachusetts does not allow fund appropriating ballot initiatives, so we can only speculate that Massachusetts would have seen an even greater increase if these types of measures were allowed
Letmon 119 government between the executive and legislature or between the upper and lower houses of the legislature since 1978 California Massachusetts, and Oklahoma had consistently strong Democrat control of the legislature but many Republican governors. Washington had the most divided and competitive government with the executive often at odds with one or both chambers of the legislature which shifted back and forth between the parties. While Republicans often had undivided control i n Arizona, there were several periods an undivided Republican state but did experience divided government before that. It was predicted that more instances of divided go vernment would cause greater levels of conflict and legislative difficulty which would push groups to use initiatives. However based on the evidence presented in this study, there does not seem to be a strong relationship between periods of divided govern ment and increased initiative use The strength of parties and importance of division between the branches for policymaking is only superficially examined in this study so it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions about the role of divided government in explaining initiative use. For example, t he increasing polarization between the Democrat and Republican parties over the past 20 years was not considered but may have enhanced possibly gridlocking effects of divided government
Letmon 120 Alternate Explanatio ns and Unconsidered Factors This study attempted to identify institutional explanations for why initiative use has increased and varied across several states over the past 30 years. There are, however, several other factors and explanations that were not explored in this project. Political Culture An explanatory factor that gets much attention from studies of state politics is political culture assumes that the habits, attitudes, and values of the people play a major part in shaping ( Morgan et al. 1991, 8). In discussions of cultural explanations f o r state political participation authors commonly reference (1966) seminal work on political culture (Bone 1985, Morgan et al. 199 1, Pedeliski 1993, Berman 1998, Gerston and Christenson 2003) 13 Elazar (1966) identifies three overarching typologies that are often used to explain political behavior and expectations in the states: moralistic, traditionalistic, and individualistic. Moral istic political culture found mostly in the northwest and upper Midwest v i e w s politics and government as a means to promote and pursue the public good with benefits for society valued over individual needs. Individualist political culture is the opposite, val uing limited marketplace intervention but viewing government and politics as a way to promote personal economic gain Traditionalistic political culture, found mostly in the South, sees the role of government as maintaining the status quo and social hierar chies and does not value active citizen political participation. This framework would seem to explain why a moralistic California 13 For other more recent, American political culture typ ologies see Garreau (1981), Wildavsky (1985), and Fischer (1989).
Letmon 121 and Washington use initiatives more than traditionalistic Oklahoma or individualistic Massachusetts. However, it does not expl ain why moralistic North Dakota saw less initiative use than individualistic Arizona. While political culture may play some role in determining the likelihood that a state would appreciate direct democracy, categorizing each state in this way oversimplifi es b o t h p o l i t i c a l c u l t u r e a n d the complex political and economic developments over time that shape a Initiative s as Political Tool s For the purposes of this study, it was assumed that group s chose to use initiatives for the sole purpose of achieving policy goals. If interests believed they had a better, less costly chance of success for a particular policy by bypassing the legislature then they went the initiative route. It is possible however with the almost unlimited spending ability of some groups that measures can be placed on ballots as political tools with the specific outcome of the vote less important than the political effects of having that measure on the ballot. Groups (could) place or threaten to place issues on the ballot in order to fo rce lawmakers to take a stand on an issue they had been avoiding for political purposes. Likewise, groups can put issues on the ballot with the purpose o f forcing the opposition to divert funds away from other issues and races a n e x a m p l e w o u l d b e conservative groups putting an a nti abortion initiative on the ballot that they know will fail in a competitive race in order to force groups that would otherwise spend their money on a candidate to focus their efforts on defeating the measure instead. Initiatives can also be used to enc ourage F o r e x a m p l e liberal groups c o u l d p l a c e a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot to entice young people to drive up Democrat turnout. With this sort of constituency politics,
Letmon 122 initiatives are us ed by political actors to stifle or amplify a particular constituent voice for political gain. While is it difficult to research and prove the real motivation behind an initiative, if they are increasingly used as coercive political tools and not simply to achieve certain policy outcomes, then increased legislative difficult y and the institutional conditions explored in this project would not play as much of a role in explaining increased initiative use. Conclusion Previous studies of initiatives point t 13 as the point after which ballot initiatives reemerged as a popular alternative to representative democracy. Others look at factors that explain variation in frequency of initiative use between the states. However, none have combined the two to try and explain how institutional conditions and contingent events in each state have led to varying degrees of initiative use across time. This study attempts to answer the question, why did some states increasingly use ini tiatives w h i l e and others do not? It seems that some states experienced increased initiative use because of political and economic developments that made the traditional route through th e legislature increasingly difficult. Qualitative case study analyses of California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, North Dakota, and Oklahoma have indicated that increasingly large and diverse interest group popul ations, in combination with tax cutti ng reform and a more professional legislature, may encourage increased initiative use. States that lacked the economic development and diversity that necessitated the
Letmon 123 expansion of interest groups also lacked the growth of government t h a t pre cipitated cal ls for tax reform and subsequent increase in initiative use. For many, the ability of groups and citizens to bypass a legislature unresponsive to their interests and turn to the people directly provides an exciting and encouraging alternative to politics as usual. Proposition 13 and the tax revolts were celebrated expressions of direct democracy. However, after examining how initiatives are commonly used in the states, they seem to create more problems than they solve. In state after state, citizens and g roups use the initiative to cut taxes, increase spending, and constrain the ability of legislatures to solve the budgetary conflicts that arise as a result. It is the trend today to decry federal spending but cripple the capacity of the states to assume mo re responsibilities. The same political and economic expansion that has motivated initiative use has also created more complex problems that are not so easily solved with a yes or no vote by an often un informed public. The purpose of this study was to co ntribute to a broader understanding of how American political institutions develop and interact across time through an examination of ballot initiative use in several states since 1978. Ballot initiatives are one of the most direct methods through which Am erican citizens can participate in and engage with their democracy but less than half of the states have some form of initiative process and of these, only a few use it with particular frequency. The significant increase in the number of ballot initiatives has been a reflection of the complex transformations of American political institutions over the past fifty years.
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