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Shifting Power in Sacramento: The Effects of Term Limits on Legislative Staff
1University of California, Berkeley
Citation Information: California Journal of Politics and Policy. Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages –, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, DOI: 10.2202/1944-4370.1125, May 2011
- Published Online:
Does legislative staff become more powerful when state legislators are term limited? This article explores the impact of term limits on the power and duties of staff. Staff play an important role in today’s politics, and this study seeks to contribute qualitative and quantitative data on the changes in California’s legislative staff since the passage of term limits in 1990. I obtained data through interviews with senior staff in Sacramento, an online survey created for the study, and staff salary and staff turnover data from both the California and Illinois state legislatures.
I find that term limits have changed the duties of staff, made staff jobs less stable, and affected the relationship between legislators and staff. Levels of staff experience have gone down in the State Senate and risen slightly in the Assembly, but do not vary considerably from staff levels of experience in the Illinois State Legislature in 2009 and 2010. Staff salaries increased at a faster rate in the California Legislature than in the Illinois Legislature between 2006 and 2009. I conclude that term limits have made staff potentially more powerful, but less competent.