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During the 1970s, measures enacted in California, Kansas, and New Jersey limited local governments' taxing and spending powers. In the California and New Jersey cities studied, members of virtually all income groups benefited from lower local and state taxes. Tax levies increased, however, in Kansas where loopholes emerged in the law. The burden of taxation became slightly more progressive (i.e., pro-poor) in each state, as state income taxes partially replaced revenues from property taxes. Probably because of state and federal grants, spending by city governments did not conclusively decline after fiscal limitation, nor was the tax revolt especially directed at so-called "inessential" agencies, such as libraries. When retrenchment did occur, the levels of key public services declined despite efforts to improve efficiency.

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