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Legitimacy in Decision Making: Increasing Voter Approval of Municipal Bonds

Blount-Hill, Kwan-Lamar (2017). Legitimacy in Decision Making: Increasing Voter Approval of Municipal Bonds. Government Finance Review. Chicago, IL: Government Finance Officers Association.

GFR2017_pic1Legitimacy is the perception that an authority is entitled to the power it has — the belief that one can rely on and support the decisions of an authority figure. When government leaders are seen as legitimate, citizens are generally inclined to trust their judgment on fiscal matters. While noting the difficulty in creating municipal bond packages that satisfy diverse voting bases, researchers have found that electorates will approve large bonds when skillful public figures marshal the trust and enthusiasm of their supporters. A commonly used model of legitimacy includes four factors: 1) legality, 2) effectiveness, 3) procedural fairness, and 4) distributive fairness. It indicates that governments seeking bond issuance approval from the public should make sure that their actions are in accordance with the law, that they have adequately communicated the need for the building, and that the process and benefits to the public are fair and equal across constituencies.