For these reasons, we emphasize that reducing the size of the legislature can only lead toincreased accountability and transparency if it is complemented with other critical reforms.
Recommendations: Part-Time Legislature, Term Limits, Spending Limits, I&R
While reducing the size of the legislature has popular support, other reforms are morelikely to influence policy outcomes. A number of academic studies comparing statelegislative size to policy measures reach different conclusions—some find that states withsmaller legislatures spend less per capita than states with large legislatures; other studiesconclude that larger constituent size results in more spending (thus shrinking the legislaturewould lead to more state spending).Several studies, however, have found that state spending, tax burden, and economicfreedom correlate much more closely with legislative “professionalization” than size.In our own analysis, shown in the chart below, we find no clear evidence linkinglegislative size with measures of state policy, such as economic freedom, spending percapita, or tax burden.On the other hand, the Professionalization Index—the number of staff per lawmaker, thepay of lawmakers, and the time in session—has a strong correlation with the level of spending, taxes, and regulations enacted by state government. States with highlyprofessionalized legislatures spend more per capita, have a higher state and local tax burden, and have a higher, more burdensome level of regulation than states with part-time,citizen-led legislatures.Specifically, each increase in the level of professionalization results in an estimated$441 increase in spending per person, and a 0.4% increase in taxes as a percentage of income. For highly professionalized legislatures, like Pennsylvania's, the effect is five timesthe effect for each level.
State and LocalSpending Per CapitaState and LocalTax BurdenEconomicFreedom RankNumber of Legislators$20.00%0.0Professionalization Index$441 **0.44% **8.2**Term Limits-$90 *-0.52% *-6.7
* Significant to 0.1; **Signficant to 0.01Sources: *National Conference of State Legislatures,
Pacific Research Institute
Regressions - State Legislators and Policy Outcomes
Consider the case of Texas. The Lone Star States has twice the population of Pennsylvania and is four times the size of the Keystone State geographically. Yet, the Texaslegislature meets once every two years for 140 days to produce a biennial budget. WhenTexas lawmakers need to deal with emergency situations or revise their budget, they return