Title

Policy Design and the Politics of City Revenue: Evidence from California Municipal Ballot Measures

Keywords

taxation, direct democracy, city politics

Abstract

Residents of the United States rely on municipal governments to deliver important public goods but are often reluctant to pay for those goods. Can tax policy design affect voters’ propensity to say yes to local taxes? We answer this question by analyzing a new database of 929 tax increases of heterogeneous design that were proposed to California voters from 1996 to 2010. We find that voters’ willingness to raise a municipal tax varies with the choice of tax base, as well as with such policy design features as its timing and its symbolic links to particular purposes. The political limits on city revenue may vary substantially depending on how a tax is designed, and theories that assume otherwise—including several classic models of urban politics—may exaggerate the degree to which municipal revenues are constrained.

Original Publication Citation

Martin, Isaac W., Jane Lilly López, and Lauren Olsen. 2018. “Policy Design and the Politics of City Revenue: Evidence from California Municipal Ballot Measures.” Urban Affairs Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/1078087417752474

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2018-01-22

Publisher

Urban Affairs Review

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Sociology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

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