For almost a century, states and cities have battled with who has the authority to decide how local governments serve residents. Tax and Expenditure Limitations (TELs) are some of the oldest preemptions that perhaps strike closest to the heart of local governance, by limiting how cities raise money to fund community services.

Yet the effects of these restrictions on the size and revenue of city governments are not clear. This brief investigates how local service capacity is affected by state tax and expenditure limitations.