Term Limit States Ranked Best as Career Politicians Flop

George Mason University’s 2017 rankings of states by fiscal condition.

Surprise, surprise. A brand new report says states with term-limited legislatures are outperforming their career politician counterparts.

According to George Mason University’s “Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition 2017” report, 8 of the 15 fiscally strongest states have legislative term limits. When one considers that only 15 out of 50 states have legislative term limits, this means citizen lawmakers are providing a quality of leadership disproportionately better than their peers.

The report’s criteria included five separate measures of solvency, which is a state’s ability to pay its short-term and long-term bills.

Florida, which has more term limits than any other state, was ranked as number one fiscally healthy state in America. For any state, the presence of term limits more than doubled the odds of receiving an elite ranking. None of the five worst-ranked states have legislative term limits.

So, what can we take away from this? First, this report dismantles the clichés that self-seeking politicians have always used to oppose term limits. For years they’ve warned that term limits would lead to inexperience which would produce fiscal ruin. This report proves the opposite is true – that term limits states do better than those run by prehistoric politicians.

As U.S. Term Limits has noted for years, real life experience – like running a business or being a teacher – gives lawmakers a better perspective than the political experience of cutting deals with lobbyists and raising cash for re-election. Career politicians are at best ineffective and at their worst, corrupt.

For evidence of this, look no further than the state ranked 49 on this list, Illinois. Illinois, which has no term limits, just made Representative Michael Madigan the longest serving legislative leader in American history. Madigan has been House Speaker for 32 of the last 34 years.

But Madigan’s vast experience has only plunged his state into fiscal calamity. Just last month, ratings agencies Moody’s and S&P dropped the state’s bonds to BBB-, the lowest rating ever for a state. The raters said if Illinois doesn’t do something about its $200 billion in long-term debt, the bonds will be downgraded to junk.

Madigan has been able to get himself and other careerist politicians re-elected in perpetuity, but he hasn’t lifted a finger to solve the state’s fiscal woes. And therein lies the problem with having no term limits.

Individuals elected under a term limits system know their job is not to build political empires. It’s to get in, solve problems, then return to private life.

If these rankings are any indication, term limits are doing a great job.

Nick Tomboulides is the Executive Director of U.S. Term Limits

About Nick Tomboulides