Legislative Term Limits and Fiscal Policy Performance



Do term limits impede the ability of legislators to effectively set fiscal policy? To address this question, I examine state bond ratings from 1996 to 2009. Bond ratings serve as a valuable indicator of a state's fiscal performance, gauging the risk and uncertainty that investors face when buying these bonds. In addition, bond ratings are important policy ends in themselves. High bond ratings make it easier for states to borrow and raise revenue, while lowering interest rates. Results from analyses of “Term-Limitedness” and legislator experience suggest that term limits negatively impact a state's fiscal performance, leading to lower bond ratings.