Politicians blame budget woes on ballot measures

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August 6, 2009


The United States is in a recession. Since the beginning of 2009, states have struggled to pay their bills as tax revenues have declined, leading to frequent state budget deficits.

Some state politicians say they believe that voters should be blamed for their budget problems, asserting that voters have approved expensive ballot measures.[1] A total of 24 states currently have the initiative & referendum process. Some states, like Oregon, are imposing new restrictions on the process. Citizens in Charge Foundation calls the restrictions a "blatant attempt to hamper and obstruct the petition process and citizen initiatives."[2]

In Florida, lawmakers delayed enacting the Florida Monorail Initiative (2000) after it was approved by a 52.7% vote in favor of the project. Construction was scheduled to begin in 2003 but state analysts estimated the state would save up to $25 billion over 30 years if the project were delayed. In 2004, voters voted in favor of Florida High Speed Rail Initiative (2004) which repealed the state constitutional statute that required the state proceed with the project.[3]

In California, the Center for Governmental Studies, agrees with concerned lawmakers and advocates the reform of California’s initiative system. Robert Stern, president of the group, said that citizens are voting on "too many things," some of which "cost the state a lot of money."[3]

A total of 19 states are currently considering initiative process changes.

See also

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*Changes in 2009 to laws governing the initiative process