Don’t Blame Term Limits for Budget Problems
This is from a story on Missourinet:
Some veteran state legislators worry that term limits have hurt the process of deciding how much money will be spent on the state programs, services, and institutions that serve the taxpayers.
These legislators appear to believe that if Budget Committee members were allowed to stay in the General Assembly longer and accumulate more experience, they would make better decisions about state spending.
Leaving aside the issue of whether term limits are good policy, they’re a poor excuse for flawed budgets. People elect their representatives with the expectation that they will represent them right away, from their first day in office. Anybody who wants to work in government needs to familiarize himself with the budget and make decisions about spending priorities. If it’s impossible to do that far removed from the budgeting process, then candidates should spend some time as interns in the Capitol while they learn the ropes.
Once they’re elected, legislators begin exercising political power. They don’t have a training period during which their votes don’t count. So their claim that they can’t write good budgets for their first several years in office shouldn’t be taken seriously. If they can’t do a good job of writing a budget during those years, they shouldn’t be voting on other bills then either!
Legislators may become skilled budgeters during long terms, but they may also grow distant from their constituents. It’s not clear that more time in office is always better.